At Travel Startups Incubator (TSI) we have spent the better part of 2-years thinking about how to improve the process of prospecting, vetting and investing in travel technology startups. Our thesis from the beginning has been to identify and support talented entrepreneurs solving real travel industry problems.
Today we would like to highlight how our process has evolved, and how it led us to Flightsayer, a company we believe has extraordinary potential.
Our process for identifying new technology in travel is a combination of tapping our deep travel industry network for leads and feedback, using our instincts honed over decades of experience in the industry, and supplementing our research with online data mining of news and events in important industry verticals.
The process has matured rapidly, leading to the build out of proprietary internal software tools to help us streamline and continue to improve how we engage with new travel technology startups. Knowing how difficult it is to navigate the investment/partnership landscape in the travel industry, we decided to open up our tools to travel founders, corporations and investors through the TSI Deal Flow Platform.
Current solutions for travel technology startups and corporate travel companies to connect, network, build new relationships and commence deals include digital networks like LinkedIn and AngelList, and in-person events such as Phocuswright’s Travel Innovation Summit, Travel Tech Con in San Francisco and Travel 2.0 in New York City. We often hear that entrepreneurs get lost in the large and broad-based online networks, and the latter are either too expensive or too limited to a specific geography.
The TSI Deal Flow Platform is global with no boundaries and can quickly scale introductions and connectivity in the travel industry. We provide feedback, make partnership/investor suggestions, and make introductions solely through the Deal Flow Platform which helps us greatly streamline these processes and effectively make connections at scale.
The foundation of the Platform is our internal database of over 25,000+ travel technology companies which we have been curating for 2-years. It contains information on companies small to large and is uniquely useful for prospecting and business development within the travel industry.
You can learn more and join the Platform here.
Through the Deal Flow Platform we found Bala Chandran, co-founder of Flightsayer, 1-year ago and has led us to investments in FlitWays which recently went public on the OTC market and Proxce which won the Most Innovative Startup award at Phocuswright 2015.
Flightsayer is lead by two co-founders with Ph.D’s from Berkeley and Stanford, one of whom is currently a professor at MIT. They predict flight delay days and hours ahead of scheduled flight time using advanced machine learning algorithms, empowering travelers to make better itinerary choices and respond proactively to potential disruptions. Passengers receive delay alerts and alternative itinerary suggestions when their flight is likely to be delayed.
We are aware that flight delays cost the US economy tens of billions of dollars annually in direct costs and lost productivity. More than two-thirds of surveyed passengers list unpredictable delays and cancellations as the most frustrating part of the flying experience. We view this as a significant travel industry problem, as well as an opportunity.
Businesses such as TMCs, OTA’s and GDS’s who want to deliver a better customer experience can access Flightsayer predictions via a flexible API. Airlines and airports can improve internal operations and efficiency as well.
Since we started working with Flightsayer in September, we have have made many business development introductions including the Amadeus R&D team, the Virtuoso Incubator, Amadeus for Startups, American Express GBT, JetBlue, OptionsAway, SITA, SwitchFly, Cornerstone Information Systems and Wings Travel among others. These companies have been happy to receive our recommendation of a very promising company that was not on their radar.
We gave them exposure to industry decision-makers at the VISIT FLORIDA event and helped steer them towards a B2B model focusing on licensing their API. We proposed a new business model that would leverage the re-booking/ticketing of flights due to delays and cancellations targeted at business travelers their core traveler. We are also exploring how their data can be used outside of the air vertical, such as to notify hotels of late check-ins and cruise ships of passengers that may miss the departure. We are now helping them get feedback on new models through the partners mentioned above and many more.
TSI’s advisory service has given us almost instant access to a network of advisors, peers, partners, customers, and potential investors that we could not have built on our own. Matt, Mike, and Nicole are always available to help, and we have benefited from their experience in navigating the travel industry.
-Bala Chandran, CEO Flightsayer
Since Flightsayer joined the Deal Flow Platform as an advisory client we have helped them make incredible progress, and now we are making this process available to other travel tech companies through our 4-month TSI Deal Flow Program running January through April.
Travel Startups: Join today
Established Travel Companies and Investors: Join today