TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based Superfly, a platform which combines a flight search engine with a loyalty scheme management system.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Superfly is a team of consumer internet and mobile travel pros, founded by Jonathan Meiri and Zviki Cohen.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
- Jonathan is Superfly’s Co-Founder CEO. He started out as a product manager at eBay and was part of the team that launched PayPal Mobile. He then worked with companies that focus on digital travel, first as a director of mobile at Rearden Commerce and after that as VP product of WorldMate.
- Zviki Cohen is Superfly’s Co-Founder and CTO. Before Superfly he spent several years at Amdocs, most recently as Chief Architect of its consumer platforms.
- Kenneth Esterow is a Superfly advisor and the former CEO of GTA by Travelport.
We’ve raised just under $500,000 from an A-list of Israeli Angel investors.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Consumers do not have access to online personalized travel services. Travel agents offer a personalized service, but they are harder and harder to find. Online flight search has not changed in the past ten years and results are often not relevant to you.
Other industries have leveraged personal data or interests to enhance search results so that individual consumers can really find the best flight for them, but travel has not.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Superfly helps users organize their miles. Our personalized flight search is at the core of our platform, helping consumers see the subjective value of flight options out there.
We also enable the personal management of travel rewards and provide a forum for social networking between travelers with similar backgrounds and interests.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our initial focus was travelers like the George Clooney character in hit movie Up in the Air, really heavy travelers who on the road all the time. We’re now expanding beyond that to a much wider group of travelers because there are over 80 million people in the US who collect miles (150M worldwide).
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Yes, we surveyed a few hundred people before launching in order to see whether they would find our service worthwhile. We asked them the following questions (original results below):
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
- Help me organize all my frequent flier miles in one spot
- What is the current value of my miles?
- I’m looking at various tickets, which offers the best value?
- Help me get Elite status faster?
Our goal is to help travelers find the right flight (we will add hotels and cars in the near future), so we’re already seeing some revenue from people who book a flight through Superfly.
We are also considering a premium tier, to help elite travelers with just about anything that can think of.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We are using a number of providers, including Everbread, we have a bigger flight inventory than any player out there
- We are making more revenue per user than it costs us to bring that user in
- We have yet to reach regional critical mass.
- We are a startup with limited resources.
- Huge potential to create marketplace for elite travelers. Everyone, including the airlines will be able to better target travelers with individual offers.
- Google’s recent acquisition of ITA Software and the direct connect they offer with airlines essentially disintermediates many of players in the existing travel value chain. Online travel services are now scrambling to differentiate themselves, and tech innovation is the best way to do so.
Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?
- If a large travel company enters our space.
- Google cuts off access to flight search
We launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in September of last year. One of the panelists was Sean Parker and he was concerned about our ability to reach large volumes of consumers.
We did listen to him! His point was well made and is a challenge we deal with every day. That being said, we’ve been very effective by using Parker’s Facebook properties to acquire users via guerilla marketing tactics.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
Our initial targets for the beta we launched in May 2011 were based on the number of miles we’d have under management. We are now at close to 10x that number.
Our success metrics moving forward will be based on look to book ratio, which we believe is already better than Kayak.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.