RatePunk compares hotel room prices across the major online travel agencies. When consumers search for a room, the browser extension scans top booking sites and runs a price comparison so users can get the best deal.
The company's two founders also founded AirGuru, an interactive travel agency and flight-search and booking engine. Founded in February in Lithuania, RatePunk has 15 employees and is looking to grow its team.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Have you ever overpaid for your hotel? I’m 100% sure that you have, just without knowing it. And so have we. We didn’t like it, so we created a free tool to ensure it never happens again. RatePunk is a browser extension that scans all the major booking websites’ algorithms and compares hotel prices, showing the cheapest hotel option. RatePunk saves time and money – two things people value the most nowadays.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania, we’ve created a tool that helps to save travelers money worldwide. RatePunk merges two fields – travel and technology – making travelers’ lives much easier and the travel industry more modern.
RatePunk is not only a new product in the travel market, it’s an original approach in the tech field as well. Browser extensions, especially mobile ones, are not widely used yet. But in our assessment, they are the most convenient format to show the lowest hotel rates in seconds. Users install the extension for free, and when booking a hotel, they choose their desired hotel and dates. RatePunk pops up, displaying prices from all the major booking websites and where it’s cheapest to book.
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We are constantly adding booking websites from which to compare prices. At the moment, we are up to nine of the major OTAs. While creating the price comparison, we had to dig deep into every hotel provider and find out how they are structured.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
Diverse team. Our employees are skilled in a variety of fields and quickly adapt to changes, which is vital when working in a growing startup environment.
Original concept. There are other similar price comparison engines, but most are websites. RatePunk is a browser extension that makes comparing process easier and quicker for the user.
Finding new team members. Skilled candidates are hard to find even worldwide.
New investments. Sponsors want to invest in quickly-growing products with big ambitions and ideas for the future.
Upgrades. We’re planning to turn RatePunk into an ultimate travel app one day.
Social/political/economic changes. Travel is a sector that highly depends on worldwide events. Another pandemic or a substantial economic downturn could curb the need and urge to travel.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the
The travel industry is a major duopoly of Booking and Expedia, and the lack of concurrence makes the pricing unfair for the customer. By introducing new products to the market, we give more opportunities to the consumer and a push to the major brands.
People are unknowingly overspending on hotels, and one click could save them a few hundred dollars. This is a massive gap in this market, and we’re filling it in with RatePunk.
So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
To get a lot of users, we need to get as much exposure as possible. We’ve noticed that RatePunk needs some explanation. It’s easy to persuade someone to install it when it’s shown step-by-step or, in other words, when the value is highlighted.
We just hit 18,000 users, and we’re attracting more users by constantly implementing new functions that improve the user experience. Marketing is another component. We’ve been working with social media and also trying out micro and macro-influencers. Our primary focus for the last month has been getting featured in media coverage. Recently, we were on Express.co.uk, one of the leading newspapers in the United Kingdom.
Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
While working in the travel industry on other projects, we often heard people around us complaining about hotel prices. So the product came naturally. It can be used by anyone, from frequent travelers to people who travel once a year, which makes it very flexible and in-demand.
How and when will you make money?
RatePunk is still a funded project. We haven’t found a business model that works for us. Each booking provider pays a 5% affiliate commission.
But for now, our main focus is getting as many installs as possible. From our previous experiences, when you create value for the user, starting to make money is not that complicated. We expect to do that in one year, tops.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
The founders are two friends, and it’s not their first travel-related business. They founded AirGuru, an interactive travel agency and flight-search and booking engine, nine years ago in Lithuania. It is expanding to other markets.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
We’re hiring internationally. And we notice that we’re becoming a remote-work startup, with more and more of our employees choosing this option. At RatePunk, we welcome interns, too: The main requirement is an eagerness to learn, and we’re ready to teach the rest. Everyone in our office is a part of something bigger, and they know it very well.
What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
It could easily be the finances. However, I’d say it’s the dip in motivation when installs stop coming. Installs have always been our main focus; there weren’t any other measures of success. It was especially noticeable at the very start when we were stuck on 500 installs for more than a month. It’s disappointing to see the whole team throwing themselves into something that doesn’t bring any results.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Because we strongly believe in our product and making it a success. We know the value it brings: The savings we see are huge – we just need to convey them to the user. We take the feedback our users give, improve our product accordingly, and have a bunch of ideas and functions that will only grow the value over time.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
We hope to reach at least 500,000 installs by that time. We’ll keep adding new booking websites to the system, which will allow us to guarantee a better price for the user.
I think remote work will be a huge part of our office routine, and our number of employees will jump up; the team is what RatePunk is all about.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
The browser extension we’re working on now is a part of the bigger plan. We want to turn RatePunk into an all-inclusive ultimate travel app. By improving it and adding various functions, we’re getting closer to creating a tool that will help travelers plan their trip from A to Z in the most convenient way possible.
The end-end-game would be to turn RatePunk into a Lithuanian unicorn.
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