Tripesa is a customized, no-code platform that helps small tourism businesses to build and manage a commercial online presence.
Founded in 2021, the Africa-based company has 17 employees.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
We are empowering micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism and hospitality management sector in Africa. Entities can sell and manage their businesses through Tripesa, a Shopify-style SaaS platform.
Anyone irrespective of their technological skill level can build an e-commerce-enabled booking website or marketplace, accept bookings and payments, distribute and market to third-party marketplaces and manage their basic business processes for as low as $180 a year.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
Tourism in Africa is run by a network of small businesses, from tour guides to car-hire services to trinket sellers. Many of these SMEs struggle to do business online, and this limits their ability to access customers, accept payments, manage operations and collect the right business data to help them grow. As a result, they must be reliant on larger middle men who determine the price and will in many cases limit the growth of these small businesses.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
Tripesa presents a solution through a customized no-code platform to enable small businesses to build and manage a commercial online presence. This means a small business that typically waited for a large destination management company to deliver customers to them can build their own custom-branded and e-commerce-enabled website to package products, acquire customers and manage the conversion process themselves. They can accept payments online, distribute to different sales channels and manage social media marketing and customer relationship management without the need for complex technical skills.
The price for this service package starts at $180 a year. This implies that for as low as $15 a month, a small tourism business can have a fully functional and commercial digital presence. In addition, Tripesa makes money through payments facilitation, lead generation and more.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
- Strengths: Our custom-built and proprietary technology has been developed, tested and validated. We know the market wants Tripesa. This is coupled with a very strong team with industry and payments domain experience. Our geographical location at the Pearl of Africa, a region that is gifted with tourism ventures and destinations - plus knowledge of Africa - puts us in a very strong position to succeed despite the competition from related service providers. Our current investors are dedicated and knowledgeable in management of business on the African continent. We raised our pre-seed round from Future Africa, Chanzo capital, Consonance Investments and LTNT Investments. These have a very strong presence on the continent and continue to support our growth.
- Weaknesses: We continue to face funding challenges mainly as a result of geographical location and core interest of available funds. In addition, due to the political set up of Africa and challenges to scale, we may need a different set of licensing and incorporations for each market we enter.
- Opportunities: Africa’s response to the post-COVID-19 recovery and the willingness and interest to digitize the tourism sector have provided an opportunity for investment in the tourism sector. Tripesa’s low cost to scale means we can get into more markets faster. Lastly, a recent product add-on in the form of aggregated marketplaces (aggregating a number of tourism products and services from individual business websites) implies the ability to grow gross merchandise value and tap into the traveler market by enabling other entrepreneurs to build travel marketplaces.
- Threats: Our biggest threat is ever-looming competition from larger and wealthier firms in the business. This being a laissez-faire economy, there are no policies to protect firms of our size. Foreign investors also enjoy incentives such as tax holidays that are not extended to small firms.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
The cost of transport is relatively high as a result of inflation and the cost of fuel prices. These factors increase the cost of production and doing business, which results in exorbitant fees that scare prospective customers and affect profit margin and growth.
Tripesa’s customer is the tourism businesses. By providing an online platform for conducting business, we are helping businesses solve the challenge of how to get online, how to digitalize their businesses and how to remotely reach new markets and grow. The biggest question for many small businesses in the tourism sector is, “How do you digitalize your business?” Tripesa is a place to start.
For the industry as a whole, we are helping figure out how to increase tourism product development and distribution in Africa, especially with plans for the continental free-trade area. Tripesa is a viable solution to connect tourism markets by easing industry collaboration through easier cross-border payments for tourism, more visibility of products and better industry data.
So, you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
The post-COVID recovery plans for most African tourism markets rely on digitalization. We are currently the most viable solution for mass digitalization. We can get a tourism business online in a couple of hours, packaging and selling to the world. Our brand is heavily advertised and presented to the public in an attractive and fashionable manner that it has become desirable to associate with. Our rates are equitable, competitive and affordable.
This value proposition, along with additional business skills development for customers, has been especially valuable to the government and local clientele. We are working with governments and development partners to support mass digitalization initiatives.
Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
We most recently raised funding to build our product and find a product market. To achieve this, we have constantly spoken to customers so their needs can guide our product development. We couple this with constant testing and iterations.
Tripesa feeds into different parts of the tourism value chain, including transport, accommodation and industry connectors such as tour operators, tour guides and other businesses. This gives us an addressable market well into millions of businesses. As we continue to build Tripesa, we are confident that in the near future, anyone in the tourism industry - an agent, a tourist or a car-hire business, for example - will interface with Tripesa either as they make or receive a booking, payment or inquiry or distribute or resell tourism-related inventory to or from the African continent.
How and when will you make money?
We currently have our initial customers, with more than 400 users and are growing daily. We make money from subscriptions from selling a SaaS platform. We generate additional revenue from payments processing, lead generation, custom solutions like marketplaces and more.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
David Gonahasa was co-founder of Roundbob, one of the first tourism-booking marketplaces in Africa, and an Alibaba e-founders fellow. He was named “most innovative person” in Uganda in 2017. David was also CMO at Mobicash Africa, one of the first fintech platforms in Africa. He brings fintech and travel/tourism experience to the team.
Thomas Karugaba and Raymond Byaruhanga are product and technical co-founders. They previously co-owned and ran an IT developer house called Wizimara, where they worked jointly on a number of technology platforms across different sectors including fintech, agritech and government systems.
How have you address diversity and inclusion within your business?
Tripesa is an equal opportunities employer, with a 60:40 ratio of women to men, including in leadership roles.
What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Fundraising in Africa is hard - and even harder in countries like Uganda. As such, we must find creative ways to keep the business alive from time to time through consulting and engaging in other activities. In addition, finding great talent is even more difficult. We initially worked with some off-shore development houses. However, we are proud that our entire development team is currently all local, illustrating our ability to attract local talent in accordance with the national local content guidelines and requirements.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
We are a highly dedicated, motivated and experienced team of businesspeople, with the diligence and tools to manage a business of this nature. Tripesa is in the right market, with the right product, at the right time. Africa needs to get African tourism products online and enable smaller players to benefit. We are able to do this and allow the smaller business to individually own their customers, their data and win.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
Tripesa will be in at least five markets in Africa. We will have found product-market fit with more than 5,000 small businesses.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc).
Tripesa is an acquisition play.
PhocusWire's Startup Stage