BookingBug is a UK-based online booking, reservation and affiliate engine, which first featured on Tnooz in April 2010 [TLabs Showcase - BookingBug].
So what happened in the intervening 12 months?
Are you making money yet?
Yes. We are generating revenues that are increasing at a rapid rate month on month. 2011 has been a great year for us, we’ve grown our customer base significantly and this is set to continue through 2012.
It’s great to know that you’re developing and delivering a product that people value and are willing to pay a fair price for.
What has been the biggest problem - building the product/service or marketing it to the travel industry?
Rather than it being a problem as such, we see it more as a challenge. The travel industry is very diverse and we have been focusing on building a booking solution that can cater to all those broad needs.
For example, the requirements of booking system for a B&B is very to a villa, and camp sites and day trips are both very different again.
We didn’t want to build a platform that was limited to a single very niche area, so BookingBug’s technology has been built from the ground up to be flexible enough to suit the very diverse needs of the travel industry – and most other service-based industries.
Biggest assumption in the business plan that was wrong?
Probably the assumption that third-party relationships would have progressed more quickly than they did.
As an agile start-up, we tend to move fast because we have the flexibility and team to do so. We can make decisions and implement them at a fairly speedy pace.
I guess we assumed that pace would be matched by potential partners, but we’ve learned this year that this is rarely the case.
The upshot of this has been that timescales and projections have had to change occasionally, sometimes significantly as certain deals have happened much later than we had expected.
Is your current customer base as predicted?
Yes and no. Size-wise, we are currently at where we predicted we would be at the close of 2011.
The mix of customers is slightly different to what we had foreseen however.
The rise of the daily deals phenomenon has meant we’re now catering for a much broader range of businesses that we could have ever imagined – particularly in the travel, leisure, health and experiences industries.
Did you achieve your 12 month goals? If not, why not?
Yes. We are well on track for achieving our forecasted revenues. Broadly though, the fast-moving nature of being a start-up means sometimes the goals have changed, and we have to be agile flexible enough to deal with that and make the most of it.
So whilst we are pretty much where we expected to be at this point, the path we took to get here wasn’t exactly as we imagined it would be!
Has the problem you were trying to solve changed?
No. It hasn’t changed – but awareness of it has certainly increased, along with a better understanding about what the potential solutions are.
We expect this trend to continue through 2012 and beyond.
Which startup that has launched in the past 12 months did you think “Ah, wish we had done that!”?
There have been a whole host of of great technology and internet startups launched over the past year – and it’s great to see so many of them here in London based around the Silicon Roundabout/Tech City area.
It’s such an exciting time to be doing what we’re doing, and I couldn’t possibly name-check just one!
If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
Probably to be a little more selective about where I focus my time and energies as the company founder. It’s all to easy to be pulled in many different directions, and not give enough thought to exactly where I (and the company as whole) would be best focussed at any one time.
For example, we have invested a lot of time in pursuing certain partnerships that have ended up coming to nothing.
If I could go back and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to consider carefully when it might be best to just say no.
NB: Tnooz launched TLab Showcase in March 2010, a dedicated channel to give startups in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector an opportunity to explain their vision, company background and strategy to a wider audience.
As well as publishing an elevator pitch-type questionnaire for each business, Tnooz committed to following up with each startup after 12 months or so to see how well (or not) each performed.
NB2: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.