The corporate travel sector is attracting a huge amount of attention from the startup community currently.
They see a booming sector, generating big money, but great inefficiency in processes, and think there must be a better way.
And, the investment community also seems to have the appetite to put down the cash. Recent big rounds for startups in business travel include Upside, which raised $50 million about 18 months ago.
TravelBank received $10 million in October 2016 while Flyr received $8 million in January 2017.
Enter Tripgrid to the party, which is taking on the team travel aspect of the corporate segment and aims to eliminate more of the manual processes.
Right now the startup has just opened a private pilot for customers and is planning a wider beta release, alongside its mobile app release, this month.
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What problem does your business solve?
Businesses with frequent team travel employ internal coordinators whose current process is to hand-enter data into a set of multiple disconnected tools not specifically built for their needs.
We have given those employees a flexible, connected workspace that saves them time, automates part of their day, opens up travel transparency, and standardizes their process while offering fully customizable team itineraries and a team phone app for their travelers.
Tripgrid helps them coordinate the chaos of team travel.
Names of founders, their management roles, and number of full-time paid staff?
We are a team of five including Jake Hoskins, CEO and a former ship captain; Tim Tischler, CTO - former director of engineering at HomeAway; Jake Horn, CPO - former design director at R/GA (Digital products for Nike & Microsoft); Joe Stevens, COO - former company founder with successful exit, expert in finance and operations; Brock Hagen - full time developer.
We have raised $375K in pre-seed investment from friends/family and angels.
Tripgrid is a SaaS platform that charges a monthly subscription per administrative seat. A free mobile solution is provided for an unlimited amount of travelers per company.
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
For our customers, travel coordination can take multiple full time employees, is critical to operations and is one of the largest expenses. We built a clean customizable solution that saves them time, makes their life easier, allows for standardization and alleviates costs associated with manual processes. No more spreadsheets, no more hand entering data over and over, no more mistakes.
From our initial pilot program we have converted paying customers with well-known names in the entertainment business and we continue to gain traction amongst businesses with similar team travel styles.
We are a well-rounded team and have an incredible board of advisors:
Cliff Johnson: Co-founder and CDO of Vacasa.com helping with business development
Luis Vargas: president of travel at Leftlane Sports and advisory board for ATTA
Scott Hollingsworth: VP of Finance at Sheer ID
Brent Hieggelke: CMO of Brandlive and founder of Secondporch.com
The corporate travel sector is seen as ripe for change. The user experience for both the travellers themselves and the buyers and bookers leaves a lot to be desired.
The feeling is that if something doesn't change, out-of-policy behaviour will increase and technology adoption levels will go down.
Tripgrid is looking to address team travel. It says traveller data is spread across emails, spreadsheets and PDFs which leads to huge inconsistency and inefficiency.
In addition, the newbie says every company has slightly different processes in what data it collects and how and all this equates to time wasted on manual processes.
Tripgrid is offering a more standardised approach which should lead to workflow improvements by having the data is one place and one format.
Standing in its way will be its ability to test its service at scale with large corporates. Getting in the door continues to be a challenge for startups generally but especially in this sector.
In its favour, Tripgrid is honing in on team travel.
It's also addressing pain-points for bookers and buyers which will appeal to the finance and procurement teams within businesses.
A nice feature of the service, and something that will appeal to the travelling community, is the team travel mobile app.
It's interesting that many travel management companies are adding services currently enabling travellers to interact and access itineraries on the road.
It's about being seen to add value and stay relevant in the fast-changing world especially with Millennials pushing expectations of tech up.
One final question might be whether Tripgrid can create a business or whether it's more of a feature to manage data and coordinate processes.