Despite dozens of failed attempts by others, new startup Relovate believes that it can build a successful trip-planning and booking platform.
It has received some validation by being one of the first companies In synch with its first major release, Relovate signed a deal with tech giant Amadeus.
Amadeus’ content and search functionality is powering Relovate platform and the startup is one of the first to be included in the Amadeus for Startups mentorship program.
The tool lets users search, save, and share their research on flights, hotels, car rentals, restaurants, activities, and more.
Relovate has been successfully beta-testing since Christmas of 2015. In that short timeframe, it has sold about $650,000 in gross bookings. Its first major release launched in August 2016.
Here's a one-minute video pitch by co-founder Charles Saldarini:
What problem does your business solve?
Relovate is solving three big problems in online travel. First, we provide an easy-to-use trip-planning and booking solution that integrates world-class travel product on a breakthrough website that supports any type of trip, ranging from single to complex multi-destination plans.
Second, we make it easy to socialize and collaborate any trip with friends, family, and colleagues, using the site’s real time trip data sharing and communications features.
And, we are adding private, direct communications between providers and users, so that both parties can explore and establish value in the pre-booking period. The net benefit is an end to Booking Around, in all forms.
Founders, friends, family, and angels have provided funding to date in the amount of $3.4 million.
Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?
Relovate has 18 team members today; our founders are:
Sheli Gupta, CEO
His first start-up, Software Associates International (SAI), grew into a 180- person company with $23 million revenues, at its exit and was recognized with numerous awards including Inc. His second startup, Semantelli Corporation, was later acquired by IMS.
Chuck Saldarini, COO
In his first business, Chuck led PDI, Inc. from its early inception in 1987 to peak revenues of $365M, and a successful IPO. Later, he led the turnaround of Sentrx serving as CEO.
Raghu Gopalakrishnan, CTO
Raghu started with Software Associates International (SAI), focused on software development and system architecture. At SAI, he concentrated on data and system integration, data warehousing and analytics, and he was instrumental in the development of the company’s breakthrough product, Nucleus Pharma, a customer data integration system.
Relovate is free to all users. Our revenues come from commissions paid by the providers we include in our application, including flights, hotels, car rentals, activities, restaurants, and points of interest.
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
Relovate is enabling a friction-free approach to user trial and adoption.
Our business is utilizing many of the world’s leading providers, including: Amadeus, GroundLink, Yelp, Viator, goSeek, and TrustYou.
We are presently forming an advisory panel that will include the former CTO of a major travel technology company, the current chief digital officer of a Fortune 100 company, and participation from leading bloggers, publishers, and other travel providers.
The case for why you should never consider a travel-planning startup has been made eloquently before.
In brief, it's difficult to make the business model work by relying on commissions and word-of-mouth marketing.
That said, just because others haven't cracked the code yet doesn't mean it can't be done with efficient tech and clever partnerships.
Amadeus apparently thinks so. Amadeus Next, an incubator-style division focused on nurturing startups in Asia-Pacific, has enlisted TripHobo, another trip planning and itinerary service.
Relovate's leadership, and the mentors the executives have chosen to rely on, have established track records. It'll be interesting to see the route it takes.