Airheart is a social travel platform which helps users collaborate on and share travel plans, using data to help them see restrictions and get a glimpse of what a destination might be like.
The Texas-based company was founded by Lindsey Renken who has more than 11 years experience in product, marketing and data science.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Airheart is a social platform where travelers can coordinate and collaborate together on all of their explorations. Utilizing the platform, groups of people can easily discover and share travel plans, helping them to craft their perfect trip, even if it’s only aspirational.
By leveraging data, Airheart gives users a sneak-peek into what life will be like in a given location, helping them to navigate restrictions and traverse changes, all in one beautiful, integrated space.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Airheart partners with data providers for travel restriction information. With our core product, we will be partnering with online travel agencies and booking platforms to aggregate options for travelers looking to compare and book in one seamless experience.
At this time, our products are free for users and we will introduce paid options in the future.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: We’re a product-obsessed team with a deep technology background. We create user-friendly tools using the best technologies available.
- Weaknesses: We don't have deep roots in the travel industry, but we bring a fresh perspective, which we think is helpful.
- Opportunities: We're creating a platform that allows us to expand into many different vertices.
- Threats: The pandemic has thrown the travel industry many curveballs, but it has also forced it to innovate. We believe we can continue to help travelers navigate the new landscape and make travel even more accessible than before.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Consumers are demanding a better user experience, and the travel industry has failed to keep up.
Airheart was initially developed to help people navigate complex travel restrictions domestically and internationally.
Airheart Explorer provides guidelines for each country, presented in an easy-to-read format, so that travelers can see what documents are needed before they go and what policies are in place, such as mandatory COVID testing and quarantines.
Travelers can search for guidelines by their vaccination status and filter out countries by certain policies. With our core platform, we’re simplifying the way people plan group travel and have created a community where people can draw inspiration from one another’s trips. Users can easily keep track of separate bookings (airline, hotel, and reservations), and view all of their options within Airheart to better compare and narrow them down.
You and your group members will see how your whole trip flows at a glance, or expand plans to see them in detail. Travelers will be able to follow each other, view one another’s explorations, and copy itineraries if they are shared publicly.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
There will be a continued need for people to navigate COVID travel guidelines as we get through this global pandemic. People are searching for tools that are easy to use and understand. As we expand our products, we’re working with knowledgeable and trusted creators in the travel industry.
Our core planning product is collaborative in nature, so friends and family will be inviting each other to participate in building their itineraries. We also believe that people are searching for community, and the social nature of our platform will lead to organic sharing and growth.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
During the pandemic, we noticed that it was really difficult to find travel guidelines that were together in one easy-to-read space. It was even more difficult to be able to filter out restrictions based on vaccination status or current policies, such as COVID testing and mandatory quarantines.
Our Explorer product solves these problems so that people can travel with confidence. With our core planning product, we want to fill the current gap that exists for travelers who are looking for a seamless experience booking multiple flights, accommodations, and other reservations.
We also want to create a community-driven platform because most people don’t plan their trips in a silo - they turn to other travelers for inspiration.
Typically, they find travel content they are inspired by on social media, but there's no context and it's nearly impossible to turn it into a bookable trip. Airheart solves this problem - bringing accessibility to the aspirational phase of trip planning.
Our audience is currently global, and our product is available for English-speaking users worldwide.
In just eight months after our launch, we have helped more than two million people navigate travel guidelines. Presently, we also have nearly 24,000 travelers signed up for our itinerary planning tool.
How and when will you make money?
We will be introducing service fees with our core platform in the future, which will be determined at a later date.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
Lindsey Renken, CEO, is an experienced founder; previously raised nearly one million as a co-founder for a consumer-facing application. Renken has spent more than 11 years in product, marketing and data science.
Ivan Vanderbyl, CPO, has founded three companies and had two exit. He was formerly senior director of product management at Tricentis and has spent 15 years in software development and product management.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
We are a proudly female-founded company. As we continue to grow, it’s important to us to build a diverse global team that represents the customers we serve.
We are deeply committed to ensuring our online products adhere to accessibility best practices, and are excited to be part of what we hope will be a future of more accessible travel.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
We’ve been balancing the planning and development of our core product with the constant improvements to our existing Explorer product.
Government policies and responses to the pandemic are changing rapidly, and it takes a lot of work to keep the presentation of information in a format that is most accurate and helpful to people. Launching this tool has allowed us to build an audience in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.
We have talked with hundreds of travelers answering questions about their travel plans which has given us great insight into the frustrations people have when planning and shows the need that exists for reliable tools.
We didn’t feel comfortable launching a product that promoted travel at the beginning of the pandemic when we knew little about the risk profile of the virus.
With Airheart Explorer, we have been able to help people travel safely, following the guidelines of countries around the world.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
The problem many travel startups face is that the cost to acquire a customer is too high and their loyalty to the company is low. We believe we’ve found a solution for both of these problems.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
We'll have launched our core product and we'll be scaling our user base.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
The goal is to build a venture-scale company. We'll do what's right for the company and our user base when the time comes.
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