The Away Together platform allows for accommodations to communicate with their guests as well as for guests to communicate with one another.
Founded in 2020, the Pennsylvania-based startup is initially targeting small- to medium-sized, locally-owned accommodations in the Caribbean.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Away Together is a mobile application that improves the guest experience at the accommodation and destination through enhanced communication. Our platform enables the accommodation to communicate to the guest about menus, activities, amenities, etc. It places users in a geo-fenced environment for the general destination and provides a unique accommodation identifier for accommodation-to-guest and guest-to-guest communication.
Guests: Looking to share a ride to the airport? Or perhaps a fourth player for golf? Blast it out with a piece of mind.
Accommodations: The snapper was not available at the last minute; with one message you can notify your guests it will be grouper instead.
It is that simple to increase communication, elevate the guest experience and promote better reviews.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Simply put, our business is our technology and vice versa. We have partnered with a professional development team that literally is on-call. We pride ourselves on service.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: We are unique. What we offer does not exist.
- Weaknesses: We are essentially a team of two doing the work of many.
- Opportunities: Travel is projected to grow exponentially in the next few years. There is nowhere that this is more true than in the Caribbean, our initial target market. We are also researching other markets and opportunities for growth.
- Threats: Protecting our IP will always be our greatest threat.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Providing a safe and efficient manner of communication. If you are a guest and want to make dinner plans with the couple you met at the pool, you are not necessarily going to exchange phone numbers, nor do you want to talk to just anyone on open-forum social media groups.
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The front desk staff would no longer have to print and distribute notes under the doors if movie night has to be moved or rescheduled. The local charter service could send out a notification that they had a cancellation and now have two extra seats on the boat.
It is as simple as sending a text or making a calendar update. The average guest does not expect perfection, but they do expect to be informed.
So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
Our primary market is small- to medium-sized and locally owned accommodations. A large percentage of these hosts operate sister properties both on the local island or neighboring islands. Our first strategy is to saturate the market, leveraging these multiple locations. We are also very actively marketing on multiple social media platforms.
Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We have done exhaustive amounts of customer discovery using a combination of virtual and in-person meetings. These meetings, measuring well into the hundreds, have brought us to this point.
How and when will you make money?
The host accommodation (depending on its size) will pay a monthly subscription that averages $183. We project that we will be revenue positive in Q1 2023.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
CEO Melanie Brewer has a bachelor’s degree in international business and a master’s degree in strategic communication both from Penn State University. She presently manages political campaigns.
COO John Beuchert has a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Penn State University. He recently retired from a 25-year law enforcement career and is the first full-time employee of Away Together.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
As we have learned through customer discovery, the Caribbean defines diversity. Each island and each location offers its own distinct history and culture. Our plan is to maintain relationships, both in the public and private sectors, to expand on our ever-growing education of local cultures and diversity.
What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
There is no way around the fact that starting a business takes capital. Raising cash in addition to starting a business, in addition to (at the time) two full-time jobs was a challenge, but here we are.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of the lucky ones?
We believe that there is no such thing as “luck.” Luck is a by-product of hard work and placing yourself in the best possible positions. We have developed a great product and have the hardest working team. Luck will find us, not the other way around.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
We look to grow our team as we grow our business.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
We believe that growth is the foundation for any other opportunity. We will not rule out any possibility, but our goal today is growth.
PhocusWire’s Startup Stage