WKND is targeting millennials with what it calls a “retreats-as-a-service”
platform that provides personalized adventure packages within a three-hour
Founder Brian Friedman previously founded Loopd, a corporate event
analytics company that he sold to Aventri in 2017.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
WKND is an on-demand “retreats-as-a-service” platform that
intelligently personalizes local weekend adventures packages. WKND helps
millennials who desire a break from the city to fill in their weekends with
one-of-a-kind life experiences.
The intelligent platform only features
untouristed spots in a simple and short interactive guide that makes traveling
easy. With WKND, millennials can learn how to appreciate their own environment
outside the city and how to be creative with what they have nearby.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your
WKND is currently a smart web app that includes more than 30
WKND getaways and more than 400 WKND-approved destinations within three hours
of New York City. More than 80% of our WKND-approved destinations are not
available to book through an online travel agency, and our team curates each
WKND-approved destination using our proprietary algorithm.
The online journey on WKND starts off by completing a travel
personality quiz that’s inspired by the Myers-Briggs personality test. WKND
then intelligently packages together transportation with accommodations,
restaurant and activity reservations to create the perfect ready-to-live-and-share
local weekend. Our official travel partners currently include Booking.com,
Viator by Tripadvisor, Getaway and Sonder.
Expansion plans include Los Angeles with a similar
experience in Spring 2021 that will also cover up to three hours outside the
city, followed by Austin and Denver.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis of the company.
- Local getaways driven by inspiration and emotion that include restaurants, accommodations and activities
- Centralized reviews and information from FourSquare,
TripAdvisor and other travel apps
- Non-touristy not-from-the-book recommendations
- Extensive vetted activity database
- Instantly available
- Personalized and automated self-guided adventure packages
- Sleek interface design and intuitive user experience
Community creation of like-minded and traveled users
- Integrations with Booking.com, Viator by Tripadvisor, Getaway and Sonder
- Only available up to three hours outside New York City
- No native mobile app available for iOS and Android
- No user reviews on WKND Getaways and WKND curated lists
- No native direct booking engine on WKND
- No automated booking engine for businesses not using an OTA
- 100% bootstrapped by Rolling Thunder Ventures
- Automatically book car, hotel, restaurant and activities
- Partner with consumer brands for branded WKND Getaways and
WKND curated lists
- Help friends collaborate on their weekend trip plans
- Provide on-demand weekend trips to corporates
- Expand into other major U.S. cities and European markets
- White label the platform for hospitality brands
- Gen Y and Gen Z are afraid to travel locally due to COVID-19
- Competitors scrape our database for all of our WKND-approved
- Funded competitors out-advertise WKND with Facebook Ads and
- Gen Y and Gen Z don’t want to pay for WKND Premium
- Travel platforms don’t see the value in our B2B API
- Consumer brands don’t see the value in our B2B subscription
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate
from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Gen Y and Gen Z rarely own a car, they work all week living
for the weekend and want to share their experiences on Instagram and TikTok.
They unfortunately don’t have enough free time every week to spend planning and
booking their weekend escapes.
It’s challenging to book and navigate local
weekend adventures with exciting, under-the-radar destinations and activities
that promote a healthy and active lifestyle. Discovering local destinations
nearby the city can take years of hard work to find and explore.
The car-free, workaholic and social media driven generation
find it difficult to recharge, reboot and re-energize every weekend to optimize
their productivity. Studies have shown that a good work-life balance is
essential for promoting positive mental health.
Managing stress and anxiety is
not an easy feat, and creating the time and atmosphere needed for positive life
changes can take years to master.
So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of
We’ll generate buzz by partnering with outdoor groups
including Sierra Club, Adirondack Mountain Club and Meetup, and coworking
spaces and curated communities including Soho House, Assemblage, WeWork,
NeueHouse, The Collective and Summit.
We’ll make weekend retreats easily
accessible to our partner communities to help their members escape the city.
Brand reputation and traction will be created with our strategic partners.
We'll collaborate with our partners on omni-channel social campaigns that
include cobranded weekend getaway guides with product placement and giveaway
We’ll also focus on building up our domain authority score,
so that our SEO rankings are high on Google for every major city we’re
available in. We plan to launch a blog with targeted longform content that will
be supercharged with our strategic keywords and then distributed through our
syndication network. After we have a high quality and active community, we’ll
then launch paid ad campaigns on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.
Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a
genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
The global travel and tourism market was $8.8 trillion in
2018 and grew 0.7% above the global GDP growth according to World Travel and
Tourism Council. The global adventure tourism market was $444 billion in 2016
and is projected to reach $1.3 trillion in 2023 according to Allied Market
Travel sold online globally was $800 billion in 2018, $270 billion
was with mobile, and is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion by 2020 according to
Allied Market Research. Forty-three percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 years
go on a weekend holiday multiple times a year according to Statista. Wellness tourism
is set to hit $919 billion by 2022 from $640 billion with 1.2 billion wellness
trips taken annually according to PSFK.
Wellness is defined as “the active
pursuit of activities that promote physical and mental well-being” and makes up
about 17% of the total travel market according to Fast Company. Eighty-two percent
of population in the United States lives in urban areas according to University
of Michigan. It’s possible for WKND to capture 10% of the serviceable
addressable market. Twenty to 25% of spend through commissions and software as
a service subscription can be captured creating a $132 million serviceable
obtainable market in the United States alone.
There are several gaps among our competitors that do not
address the needs of Gen Z and Gen Y to deliver an authentic and local
experience stress-free. The competition is heavily focused on trip planning and
booking flights to international and domestic locations.
WKND will take
advantage of this opportunity by doubling down on destinations, activities and
contextual events local to major cities with car, hotel and restaurant
reservations. While somewhat similar to Airbnb adventures, WKND will provide
more personalized local weekend packages and will not require local guides. For
example, WKND will provide “rainy-day” alternatives.
How and when will you make money?
We’ll make money from user-driven booking commissions, user premium
subscriptions, enterprise subscriptions and our B2B API.
Car, hotel, restaurant and activity reservations platforms
will pay a commission to WKND, a strong consumer brand, for every combined
package booked. Users can purchase a premium subscription to WKND for $5/month
With a premium subscription, a user will be able to access all of
their trips and adventure guides offline, access unique insider tips about
different destinations and view all of the available getaways. Hotel,
co-living, concierge and travel companies can purchase co-branded
professionally designed getaway packages on WKND. For example, an outdoor
package could be “Designed By Brooklyn Boulders” in collaboration with WKND.
Companies such as HotelTonight, Equinox, ClassPass and SoulCycle can purchase
API calls to add trip discovery into their mobile applications that leverages
their existing user profile data. We’re already making money from WKND Premium subscriptions
after our public launch on December 8.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the
Brian Friedman was the CEO and co-founder of Loopd, the
leading innovator in offline analytics for B2B events. Brian sold Loopd to
Aventri, a major, cloud-based events management software company where he was
the vice president of digital innovation.
Brian has been an avid adventurer for
more than 20 years and now enjoys kiteboarding, mountain biking and traveling,
having recently logged trips to India, Iceland, China, Portugal and Japan.
Brian built a unique list by visiting over 2,500 destinations globally that
acts as the search model for scaling WKND.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your
WKND is on a mission to re-invent the weekend by sharing
one-of-a-kind life experiences that create everlasting memories. A lot of our
WKND-approved destinations are women-owned and minority-owned businesses who
are passionate about their craft.
Our goal is to find accommodations,
restaurants and activity providers who only provide the highest quality
experiences. Our current team is also globally distributed ranging from the
United States to Turkey.
What has been the most difficult part of founding the
business so far?
Most of the WKND-approved destinations only book directly
through their websites. There’s a trend for boutique hospitality businesses to
not use an OTA, so that they’re able to control their guest demographic and
keep all of their booking revenue.
This made it challenging to find
accommodations, restaurants and activity providers who did not have a presence
on TripAdvisor or Booking.com. Our team is made up of adventure technologists
who are experts in local regions outside major cities. Brian crafted the WKND
packages by smart filtering locations he personally visited in the past.
is not a super scalable model, however it ensures that the quality of our
curated database remains consistent as we launch in new cities.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making
an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Our business does not have a huge expense, since we’re
leveraging team members that have knowledge in tourism, adventure travel,
artificial intelligence, digital design and backend infrastructure. We’re going
to continue scaling to new cities every three months, and we’ll continue to
improve the overall experience on WKND.
Our extensive and vetted database is
the key source for high-quality, authentic and valuable adventure packages that
we’ll continue to leverage globally. Most competitors focus on air travel or
destinations within a city.
We’re one of the first to really focus on the
millennial traveler, local travel and high quality WKND Approved Destinations
one to three hours outside the city.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will
In a year from now WKND will be launched in five major
cities including Los Angeles, Austin and Denver. We’re also looking at other
markets such as Seattle and Atlanta.
We’re currently developing an artificial
intelligence system that can automatically create and book a getaway based off
a user’s social history, location check-ins and profile interests. Right now,
there are services like Google Reserve, however they’re very limited in their
ability to book beyond appointments.
We’re excited to work on the future of
travel technology by providing services that meet the demand from Gen Y and Gen
What is your end game? (Going public, acquisition, growing
and staying private, etc.)
Our goal is to grow over the next few years, and then be
acquired by a larger travel, hospitality or technology partner who can continue
to bring our vision to life.
We are motivated to help alleviate stress and
anxiety among Gen Z and Gen Y, and we’ll look for exit partners who can scale
the WKND mission to new markets globally.
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