Today, Expedia Group is launching a new startup accelerator program, called Open World Accelerator.
The initiative builds on the online travel giant’s Open World vision - first introduced at the company’s 2022 Explore partner event - which is anchored by the Open World technology platform designed for partners of all sizes to leverage and configure products and services.
With the Open World Accelerator initiative, Expedia Group wants to power the travel industry outside of the group’s brands and partners, says Archana Arunkumar, senior vice president of platform at Expedia Group.
To that end, the program allows selected startups and small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) to utilize Expedia Group’s technology platform to “fast-track their growth and innovate.”
“The travel industry is huge; it’s super-hard to get into,” Arunkumar says. “We want to make it easier for anyone to be successful in the industry.”
The first program focuses on entrepreneurs working to increase access for underserved travelers, building on Expedia Group’s Open World social impact and sustainability strategy, announced earlier this month.
Each program will include a six-month curriculum, as well as business and technology development support; mentoring, coaching and networking opportunities; access to Expedia Group’s platform and products; and a non-equity grant.
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To qualify, startups and SMBs founded less than 10 years ago must demonstrate they’re working to make the travel industry more open and accessible and that they currently have at least a minimum viable product.
Applications are open now through October 21. From there, a judging panel from across Expedia Group will select participating companies to join the program starting in January 2023.
Next year, the Open World Accelerator initiative will launch an additional program focused on co-developing new capabilities on the Open World platform, the company says.
“Travel is an economic driver for many communities around the world, but it’s a complex industry to enter and to innovate scalable products that address specific traveler needs. This is why our Open World vision is so critical to our desire to put the traveler first,” says Arunkumar.
“Expedia Group’s mission is to power travel for everyone, everywhere. Open World Accelerator is specifically designed to drive innovation in the industry, remove barriers to travel and enable startups and SMBs to build capabilities on Expedia’s Open World technology platform that significantly improve the experience for every traveler.”
Hear from Expedia Group, Hopper, MakeMyTrip and others at The Phocuswright Conference 2022 in November