TLabs Showcase - TruPriceNewsBy Kevin May | August 31, 2010Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase focus on startups featuring US-based airline fees information service TruPrice.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?TruPrice has four founding members with very distinct areas of responsibility.Our backgrounds reflect significant aviation and travel industry expertise through a combination of long-time airline employment, elite frequent flyer status, or extensive airline technology experience. In addition, we also have several external advisors with substantial industry background.What financial support did you have to launch the business?The initial funding for TruPrice came mostly from its founders and was used for development and bootstrapping the launch.What problem are you trying to solve?Our goal is to fill a consumer, corporate, and B2B demand by aggregating and creating displays of accurate, ancillary travel-related fees in a dynamic environment.Describe the business, core products and services?TruPrice is a consumer and business solution that combines technology algorithms and mined fee data as scalable products.Fees and technology can be customized to meet a particular business’s demographics based on demand and/or can be used on a much wider basis by the travelling public.Who are your key customers and users at launch?B2B solutions include corporate travel departments using TruPrice data to track business trip expenses and itemization and enable travel budget forecasting and prediction.Travel agents can integrate TruPrice fee data into their ability to quote accurate, comprehensive trip pricing with all fees included with base fares and taxes allowing them to offer their customers the most efficient travel experience with all-inclusive pricing.And, the flying public can conduct transparent comparisons of all-in pricing on their travel choices prior to purchase.Also contemplated are partnerships with vendors using TruPrice data to enable predictive consumption patterns thus aiding in controlling inventory through just-in-time supply chain decisions and meeting customer needs on a more personal level. We see unlimited expansion opportunities.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?In many cases, discussions with potential investors were in fact discussions with customers as TruPrice routinely was hailed by everyone we spoke with as a B2B and B2C solution with limitless application and growth potential.Everyone, to a person, from whom we solicited advice and financial guidance said of our idea: "I could definitely see the demand for TruPrice and I’d use it myself."What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?The business model is comprised of bundled (no pun intended) technology and data solutions for seamless integration into existing travel forecasting and budgeting technologies.The same applies for the travel agent population. This can be accomplished through a partnership with one or more Global Distribution System (GDS) providers or through direct sale to interested parties.On the B2C side, TruPrice.net, with GDS fare and schedule availability, will offer opportunities for click-through revenue, and to a lesser extent advertising revenue, as a one-stop travel decision portal.In any scenario, we are both a technology solution provider and fee data provider.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Agility and innovation: Unlike the cumbersome corporate environment of many of the monoliths that serve the travel sector, TruPrice is extremely nimble and can provide customized solutions and get them quickly to market. This provides tremendous opportunity to meet specific sector needs. It also allows TruPrice to expand its offerings - for example, ancillary fees in multiple consumer-related areas, to meet the growing market paradigm of unbundling. Weaknesses: Airlines and other travel providers could begin re-bundling or make fees so conditional that the proper identification of them under most scenarios would become extremely difficult. TruPrice accesses information from publicly available sources such as corporate Websites, contracts of carriage, in-flight magazines, and press releases. If major travel providers began consciously hiding their fees or making fee rules so complex as to be undecipherable, the data mining process would be compromised. Opportunities: There is a substantial void in the areas of consumer, business, and travel technology. TruPrice’s solutions enable access to accurate, ancillary fee data customizable to existing technology platforms. From travel agents to corporate travel planners to meta-search engines and even OTAs, without accurate fee data, the consumers of travel information are making full purchases with partial information. Our technology solutions and fee data fill that void.Plenty of markets and industries which have ancillary fees: airlines, rental cars, hotels, ticket resellers, credit cards, etc.Growth opportunities into other ventures Threats: Potential competition: OTA and metasearch engines.Regulatory framework changes: current legislation in the United States is framed to force airlines to be more transparent about their fees. While the language now pertains primarily to baggage and to the airlines’ specific Websites, full disclosure of all ancillary fees to the GDSs may be the next area targeted by legislators. We consider this highly remote, but still possible.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?No one [with background in this industry] said that the venture is not going to be successful. Some of them did mention potential issues (the kinds that would be filed under SWOT Weaknesses/Threats), but no one pulled a 'hard stop' on the venture concept itself.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Our goal is market penetration and continued supremacy as the most comprehensive provider of ancillary fee information for multiple industries.We are the globe’s first provider of comprehensive, dynamic airline fee information. We will work hard to maintain that lead.We see fertile ground in several sectors where fee aggregation and parallel technology solutions can be monetized both to the private and public sector.We are positioning TruPrice to be a verb as well as a noun. One year from now, everyone should be TruPricing their airfare, their rental cars, their...As the strategy develops, that ellipsis will replaced by even more commas.NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.