Travis is an Australia-based startup launched in January
2020 to help users find and share travel experiences.
Consumers can use the service for free, with the option to buy
a subscription for access to advanced tools. The company plans to add paid
options for travel and tourism brands in the near future.
What is your 30-second pitch to
Travis is a visual, social and
collaborative platform making travel planning easy for millennial and Gen
Users can share their own travel
experiences to inspire others, discover a personalized feed of travel guides
and places, save favorite places in curated moodboards and maps and even add
friends to collaborate and plan a trip in one place. We’ve launched in invite-only beta
and are inviting new users to the platform in batches, to build engagement and
anticipation for users.
Describe both the business and
technology aspects of your startup.
Travis exists first and foremost,
for the traveler. Key features include:
- Personalized discovery -
Enabling users to discover places you never knew existed by people you
trust, with increased personalization and optimization over time.
- Collaborative planning -
Providing a single place to curate places to visit - from guides on Travis
or from any website - and collaborate with friends to plan and see it on a
- Community-generated content -
Empowering our community with the tools to share their personal
experiences as visual travel guides to inspire the next person.
From this core, Travis extends to
support travelers across the on-trip experience, and in turn, creates new
opportunities for travel/tourism brands and content creators to better engage
with high-intent travelers across the journey.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: There is no current
market leader offering a proposition like Travis, bringing together discovery,
planning and collaboration in a well-designed, visual platform to enable travelers
to plan trips with more ease and less time. Not only are we designing for the
end-to-end traveler journey, we are building a broader ecosystem where Travis
facilitates value exchange between travelers, travel businesses and content
- Weaknesses: Maintaining quality and
diversity of travel content shared by the community, as we grow.
- Opportunities: With COVID, there is
so much pent-up demand for travel, and both travelers and brands are more open
to considering new ways of innovating for the future. In addition, Australia
has handled COVID relatively well, and we are now seeing international trips
being redirected to domestic destinations.
- Threats: Adapting our plans in line
with the unknown and changing external forces in the recovery of the global
What are the travel pain points you
are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Travel planning is time-consuming
and messy - with so much travel content online, across multiple platforms for
research, and no one way to bring it all together, easily.
We see this broken digital
experience led by the rise of social media in travel, especially in the last five
years - where inspiration and information are no longer provided solely by
travel experts and publications but by anyone over the internet. However,
platforms like Facebook and Instagram are not built for travel and never will
be. They’re peer-to-peer and visual, but you can’t map it, plan it out over
days or easily make bookings.
As a result, travelers face a broken process
from sourcing and saving this inspiration through screenshots, scribbles,
Google tabs, to planning it out for a trip on spreadsheets, group chats and
maps, and booking platforms like Booking.com and Airbnb.
On the other hand, this also means
that it is harder than ever for travel and tourism marketers to engage with travelers
at the right time across their path to purchase, because they are using
different platforms for different purposes.
So you've got the product, now how
will you get lots of customers?
We’re doubling down on Australia as
our launch market given our ability to start traveling again, before entering
other markets. We are constantly expanding our partnerships and working with
great content creators. This has been working well so far in creating extremely
high-quality, authentic guides that connect with people.
On top of that, our product will
have two major viral mechanics built in:
- Collaboration to allow a group
of friends to suggest and work on the same travel plan together.
- The ability to turn any website
link into mappable places, enabling any traveler to contribute valuable
information into the platform for others to discover.
Tell us what process you've gone
through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the
This was a problem that our team
faced personally, repeatedly. One specific trip in 2019 piqued the obsession to
solve this problem, which led us to research and test with over 300 travelers
between 25 to 35 years old to realize this wasn’t just a problem for
In fact, there are 370 million
millennial travelers globally, with Gen Z as a new generation of travelers not
far behind. Three out of five American digital users consume travel content
regardless of a trip, and 87% get travel inspiration from Facebook.
From our research, we found it
baffling that these digital savvy travelers were still using the very
rudimentary Google Map pins and spreadsheet combination, wasting countless
hours in their travel research and planning. For many of them, Travis is like “a
dream come true.”
How and when will you make
While anyone can start to use Travis
to discover, plan and collaborate on trips for free, we have paid subscriptions
for more planning and collaboration tools for the avid traveler. We will also
be introducing business subscriptions within 12 months for travel and tourism
brands to connect with creators for experiential content, and brand insights
What are the backgrounds and
previous achievements of the founding team?
We’re a blended team with expertise
across marketing, product and engineering.
Nicole Tj, co-founder and CEO, spent
five years at Deloitte Digital leading digital innovation and launching new
ventures for Australia’s largest organizations, reaching millions of their
Thomas Lo, co-founder and chief product
officer, previously spent four years in award-winning architectural practices
including WoodsBagot, designing some of Australia’s most iconic buildings, and
10 years in event experience and creative direction, before focusing on
designing digital experiences.
Sylvain Simao, CTO, has been building
digital products for 12 years, and was previously technical director at
award-winning creative agency Clemenger BBDO, leading teams to build digital
experiences for clients like Airbnb, MARS and Australian tourism boards.
How have you addressed diversity and
inclusion within your business?
Inclusion and diversity are core to
As a female founder, Nicole Tj is
proud that we embody a diversity of cultural backgrounds, career expertise and
interest areas within our founding team, having lived and worked across
Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and France. It’s something that we are proud of
and believe it helps us look at things from a different perspective.
We consciously keep this in mind
when building our team, conducting design research and user testing, choosing
content creators to work with and fostering our traveler community on the
What's been the most difficult part
of founding the business so far?
Bootstrapped development and beta
launch while navigating the challenges that have come with COVID.
In saying that, we’re thankful to
currently be part of the Skalata Ventures Seed Investment Program in Melbourne
and have a growing travel community - the pent-up demand is huge, and we know
that travel will bounce back once it’s safe to do so. After all it is the only
thing that you cannot just experience online!
Generally, travel startups face a
fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky
We are building Travis to be
positioned uniquely across the traveler journey, agnostic of but complementary
to tools that travelers use - like Airbnb, Booking.com and so on - so that we
fit as much as possible into their behaviors and habits. Think of Travis as the
glue helping you bring your inspiration - from anywhere - into one place and
giving you the tools to plan and book with this.
We are solving for a pain point we
personally face and are designing an experience that we know we will genuinely
love. This is something that travelers are crying out for, but no existing
incumbent has successfully executed.
A year from now, what state do you
think your startup will be in?
Travis will be supporting 100,000
avid travelers in discovering, planning and collaborating on their trips - and
actually making it fun! We will also have 1,000 businesses on our platform
using tools to make it easier for them to drive continuous value from
What is your end-game? (Going
public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
Grow and stay private. We’re now
focused on reimagining the digital traveler journey - but this is only one
piece of the puzzle. We see the potential for this to result in greater shifts
across the travel ecosystem and for Travis to pioneer this into the future for
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