Pinktada is a blockchain-based marketplace for hotels that turns
each combination of "hotel plus room plus night" into an NFT that the owner can
use, sell or swap.
Founded in 2020, the booking platform currently offers properties
in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Mexico and San Francisco.
What is your 30-second pitch to
Pinktada is a membership-based primary and
secondary market for hotel rooms, architected on tokenization. Pinktada
is built on blockchain technology and delivers an unparalleled user experience. Pinktada leverages the utilitarian aspects of NFTs to deliver greater value to
hotels in the form of increased sales of non-refundable reservations while
preserving flexibility for travelers, who can swap or sell their reservation
tokens on the platform if their plans change.
Pinktada offers a fully immersive customer experience, enabling travelers to
explore amenities and rooms in 3D prior to booking and giving hotels the
ability to showcase their unique attributes.
Describe both the business and
technology aspects of your start-up.
Our platform aims to transform the fundamental reservation model
that has existed for decades. Pinktada’s marketplace model is unique in that it
brings benefits to both hotel owners and travelers. Hotel owners will get
direct financial benefits, but they will now have the freedom to experiment
more and create innovative new options for travelers. They will eventually have
access to consumer data with a depth and precision currently unimaginable.
Travelers will also benefit with unprecedented flexibility to
change their plans and explore specific rooms or room types and travel options
tailored to their needs.
offers hotel partners and their guests the ability to transform the utilitarian
NFT in a personalized, commemorative NFT at checkout. The NFT is co-branded
between Pinktada and the hotel, and travelers can customize it with visual
assets from their trips. These NFTs can also have utility value (e.g., a
special coupon for the NFT owner to share with family and friends) and
collectible value in the case of travel experiences that are iconic and unique
(e.g., a historic hotel or the room where a celebrity once stayed).
The innovation and
uniqueness at Pinktada, is that each combination of "hotel plus room plus night" becomes a distinct token, called a Room-Night-token (RNT). The RNT is fully
tradable on our platform - the owner can use it, sell it, or swap it for any
other RNT in our marketplace. The innovation has allowed us to
create a revolutionary model where any traveler searching Pinktada.com for hotel
rooms can pull inventory from both primary and secondary supply. The traveler
sees a blended rate for each of their hotel options, combining options from
live inventory sales from hotels with options on our marketplace.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses,
Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
network in hospitality, travel, finance and technology
a leisure customer, Room-Night-Token model is superior to existing reservation
provide non-refundable income to hotels
give travelers best-in-class online hotel exploration experience
to collect granular hotel room pricing data
are a startup and new to the market
distribution channel in a strong competitive market with high marketing
marketing budget, difficult to compete with larger rivals
is no secondary market for hotel room price discovery
one else can provide flexibility to swap rooms with minimal cost
to book the exact room and amenities
dominated by OTAs with high fee structures
need to raise funding to grow and develop Pinktada and become an established
variety of competitors in the distribution sector with deep pockets that could
shift strategy to compete with us directly
new disaster could threaten the expected growth
players growing aggressively in online booking space
What are the travel pain points you
are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
We are solving three
major problems at Pinktada. The first one is the loss of value that occurs with
an inefficient distribution model that has not evolved in 20-plus years. Take
for example the binary, refundable/non-refundable pricing structure: for
travelers, best pricing comes without flexibility. For hotels, best pricing
comes without revenue certainty. With Pinktada, best pricing and flexibility
come hand in hand. We are able to address this problem by tokenizing room
nights, and those tokens are fully tradable.
The second problem we solve is commoditization. Current booking options do not
enable hotels to display their unique attributes effectively. By the same
token, guests do not really know what they are getting until they arrive.
Pinktada’s user interface combines experiential and transactional capabilities.
Travelers can explore different properties and accommodations in 3D, and
reserve rooms and amenities directly from this immersive experience. Finally,
one of the largest, long-term benefits of Pinktada, is the detailed customer
behavior data, that will also be available to hotel owners. Hotel owners will
thus get unprecedented and highly valuable granular data, that outlines the
effect price changes; room alterations; and external events have on room
bookings. All of this will culminate in optimum guest personalization.
So you've got the product, now how
will you get lots of customers?
supply side, we are focusing in the first phase on the U.S. and Caribbean key
leisure markets fed by U.S. outbound traffic from concentrated U.S. source
markets (East and West coasts). We have exceeded our goals for
the signing of hotels to date and have signed a mix of reputable and quality
hotel owners and managers in the United States and the Caribbean.
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We have also presented our unique product and are in discussion with over 100 additional
hotel owners and managers. The enthusiasm and sophistication of our initial
hotel customers demonstrates that there are no longer questions about our
ability to build the supply side of the marketplace.
On the demand side, we are focused initially on U.S. millennial and Gen Z
leisure travelers. Our membership base continues to grow daily. Content
creation and performance marketing are running efficiently with regular cadence
and clear processes. A mix of organic social efforts and a learning phase of
paid acquisition efforts, testing different offers across channels and
optimizing campaigns. Direct is our top source of traffic, reflecting
successful media coverage and effective presence at select events. Furthermore, we have started to
focus on finding distribution partnerships with complementary consumer brands.
Tell us what process you've gone
through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the
existing travel landscape is dominated by two forms of reservation - a
full-price, cancellable, fully refundable reservation and a discounted
pre-paid, non-refundable and non-transferable reservation.
full-price cancellable reservation gives travelers unlimited optionality to
cancel at will, leaving hotels exposed to short-term changes in customer
behavior. If a traveler changes their plans and cancels their reservation, the
risk of finding a replacement traveler falls on the hotel. If they cannot find
a replacement, that room is empty, and they lose all that prospective revenue. In
situations of significant demand destruction, such as COVID, losses to the
hotelier can be catastrophic.
pre-paid non-refundable reservation assures that the hotel will generate
revenue but eliminates any flexibility for the customer. Non-refundable
reservations typically carry a price discount of 10 to 15% compared to refundable
reservations. Leisure customers tend to be very price sensitive, and in 2019, a
high percentage of leisure customers found this discount attractive enough to
choose non-refundable reservations and forfeit their ability to cancel. If a
customer’s plans change, whether that change means cancellation or an altered
schedule or a change in the number of fellow travelers, the customer cannot change
the reservation. The customer faces complete loss of their payment.
these models is optimal. When a traveler’s plans change, a potential loss is
borne by either the hotel or the traveler. In a networked world, where tens of
thousands of people are changing travel plans every day, a network-based
solution would allow travelers to find other travelers to take over their
Pinktada tokenized room-night model is optimized to create better outcomes for
both hotels and travelers. Hotels are able to sell all of their rooms on
Pinktada on a non-refundable basis, guaranteeing stable and consistent revenue,
regardless of changes in aggregate demand or an individual travelers plans. Travelers
are able to enjoy the price discount of a non-refundable reservation, while
maintaining the ability to change their reservation in a marketplace.
On the supply side, hotels are, of course, a
subset of global travel. Global hotel room revenue was estimated at $550 billion in
2019. Online bookings are a subset of global hotel revenue. Every year,
more bookings are made through online platforms.
On the consumer side, our initial target of
professional millennials and Gen Z travelers in key concentrated U.S. source
markets is estimated at around 11 million people.
How and when will you make money?
We charge a commission on the
primary market and also charge a commission on the secondary market to
marketplace participants. We have started to generate revenues since we
launched in May.
What are the backgrounds and
previous achievements of the founding team?
Lyon Hardgrave was the founder of VAKT, the largest blockchain startup in the
energy space, with a valuation above $100 million. He has over 15 years of
commodities trading and risk.
Ronald Homsy was the co-founder and CEO of
Utopian Hotel Collection and founder and CEO of Forte Holding, a hospitality
company with $70 million turnover yearly. He has 25 years of hospitality and
travel industry experience.
Rana Basu was the founder of Ondiflo, a blockchain platform for logistics. He
co-founded software startups in Switzerland, India and Singapore.
Darden Bateau was the CFO of Astra Oil company
with $7 billion revenue and chief risk officer of $20 billion Transcor Astra
Group. Darden was a senior manager at Deloitte.
Rama Pakala has 25 years of experience
delivering platforms. Rama was the chief architect of Ondiflo blockchain
technology and vice-president and master architect at Amphora.
Ilana Grossman was the CEO of B2Both.com, a
boutique marketing strategy consultancy. Ilana has held senior positions at BCG
and Digitas and was the CMO at Gust, the leading startup financing by angel
investors and Artsy, the leading global online art marketplace.
Mark Gordon is a hotel developer and investor
including the Baccarat Hotel in New York City. He is the CEO of Intrinsic Hotel Capital and has over 30 years of hotel industry experience.
Jun Simmons has over 20 years of experience in
design. She previously was the chief creative officer at Gust and prior to that
she was the design team leader at PayPal.
How have you addressed diversity
and inclusion within your business?
are committed to diversity and inclusion as core values to our organization. We
have been hiring diverse backgrounds. We also provide equal opportunities
throughout each touch point of the employee experience and are big promoters of
pay equity. We are big believers that cultural diversity enriches the work
environment and makes us much stronger as a team, which in turn will power
innovation and financial performance. We also believe a team is only effective
if everyone feels included as everyone has special talents and things to share
with others. We work very hard on developing relationships with employees so we
can truly understand who they are as individuals and know how best to work
together. We also plan to develop a strategic training program to see real
lasting change within our organization.
What's been the most difficult part
of founding the business so far?
Obviously raising money is a very
tough one for startups, but in this current global crisis this is even much
more of a difficult one.
Generally, travel startups face a
fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky
We believe we have a product that
will revolutionize hotel bookings and is very much needed by the market.
A year from now, what state do you
think your startup will be in?
plan to have raised Series A round a year from now.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and
staying private, etc.)
This will depend on many internal and external factors, though the
likelihood would be an acquisition.
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