Team

We are a team of veteran travel entrepreneurs, startup advisors and mentors dedicated to investing in the world’s most talented travel entrepreneurs and early seed-stage travel technology ideas.

TSI Managing Partners

Matt Zito

Matt Zito

Founder, Managing Partner

Matt Zito is a Managing Partner and Head Investment Officer for Travel Startups Incubator. Investing in private and public companies since the late 90’s, Matt is the published author of “Trade IPOs Online,” by John Wiley Sons, NY, NY, featuring Matt’s 715% IRR (Internal Rate of Return) on his investments and trades the year before the book was published. Matt’s investment advice and commentary has been featured at CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine and Bloomberg. Matt leverages both his financial skill set with domain expertise in travel having successfully built and sold CollegeSkiTrips.com the largest youth based ski travel agency (OTA) in the U.S. and the Yellow Breeches House Fly-Fishing Lodge. Proxce, a Silicon Valley startup was the first investment made by Travel Startups Incubator and we believe they can become a $100M+ company. Matt has built one of the largest travel industry networks of travel CEOs and entrepreneurs in the industry and he leverages his contacts to help the portfolio companies gain traction for their products and services through strategic partnerships and business development deals.

Location: Orlando, FL area

Nicole Zito

Nicole Zito

Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer

Nicole Zito brings 20+ years experience managing the financial operations for two successful travel companies, CollegeSkiTrips.com and the Yellow Breeches House. Nicole works on the incubators business strategy working very closely with Managing Partner Matt Zito on a day-to-day basis. She works with our portfolio companies helping them setup accounting systems, financial reports and shares best practice strategies for preparing to pitch to investors. Nicole reviews every startup application vetting the startups she believes are the most viable. Her favorite saying is “show me the money.”

Location: Orlando, FL area

Mike Coletta

Mike Coletta

Managing Director

Mike Coletta is Managing Director for Travel Startups Incubator. Mike brings 15+ years experience as a travel entrepreneur including GoTravel.com (sold to Bayside Travel), EuropeUpClose.com, World.com, CheapTrav.com (sold privately), Fantrotter.com, and a travel tech organizer (Travel 2.0 Meetup). His most recent role was Program Manager at Dreamit, a Forbes-ranked top 10 startup accelerator. Mike advises our portfolio of startups, vets startups for inclusion in the incubator, and build relationships with our investor and partner network. Mike is a Board Member with Travel+SocialGood and an analyst with Phocuswright. He was selected as one of 35 members in the Phocuswright class of 2013 “Young Leaders under 35”. Mike graduated from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst with a BBA in Finance and minor in Psychology.

Location: New York, NY area

TSI Advisors & Mentors

Interested in working with our talented travel entrepreneurs?
Mentors commit to two 30-minute phone calls per month for 6 months and earn equity shares in TSI for their time.

Jessica H. Hoffman

Jessica H. Hoffman

Lead Counsel

Hoffman Law PLLC
Jessica H. Hoffman is Lead Counsel for Travel Startups Incubator. Jessica advises the incubator on all legal matters and works directly with our portfolio companies helping them incorporate in the USA, setting up founders agreements, vesting schedules and more. Hoffman Law PLLC is a boutique law firm based in New York City. She focuses on advising companies on entity structure and formative business considerations, founder vesting issues and early-stage financing, as well as various contract matters. She graduated from Brooklyn Law School where she served as Notes & Comments Editor of the Brooklyn Law Review and was a member of the Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic (BLIP), a full-service, pro bono program providing legal counsel to entrepreneurs involved in startup endeavors. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyer’s Association. You can visit her law firms website here.
Kerri Zeil

Kerri Zeil

Advisor

Head of Amadeus For Startups
Kerri Zeil is an advisor to Travel Startups Incubator and the lead contact in our Innovation Partnership with Amadeus. She is responsible for the Amadeus for Startups program, identifying new business opportunities and supporting startups at various stages of their life cycle. The program provides online search and shopping technology, multiple solutions for optimization and merchandising through content and data, access to functional and technical specialists and many other specialized services to support and prepare startups for launch and growth. They engage with startups that compliment and supplement their strategies, work closely with their customers to ensure they are meeting their expectations, and fund continued improvements to their technology and solutions through R&D to achieve that.
Scott Alvis

Scott Alvis

Advisor

Chief Marketing Officer, Amadeus North America
Scott Alvis is an advisor to Travel Startups Incubator. Scott is the Chief Marketing Officer, Amadeus North America, focusing on product marketing, marketing communication, market research, public relations and business planning for Amadeus’ distribution, airline IT and new business efforts in the U.S. and Canada. He is based out of the Chicago office. Scott joined Amadeus in 2010 as the senior vice president, client management for airline IT and distribution, where he fostered and managed IT and business relationships with major airlines in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.  A travel industry veteran, Scott previously held several positions at Sabre Holdings, including the president and general manager of SynXis, a technology provider to the hospitality industry. As Sabre’s senior vice president of enterprise marketing, he led its corporate strategic planning, pricing, market research, usability lab and innovation disciplines. Scott holds an MBA with honors from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and BA in economics from Duke University.
Rashesh Jethi

Rashesh Jethi

Advisor and Mentor

Head of Research & Development, Amadeus North America, Inc.
Rashesh Jethi heads up the Amadeus Research & Development (R&D) teams for the Americas. In this role, he leads multiple R&D teams in North and South America responsible for the development and delivery of software platforms and products across all of Amadeus’ business lines and travel industry customers. Rashesh has a track record in building technology teams and solutions for the telecommunications, finance and travel industries. He has worked in both global and start-up environments, including some of the world’s leading airlines and travel management companies such as American Airlines, Lufthansa and American Express. Rashesh holds a Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from The University of Alabama, and has completed the Executive Education Program in Marketing from the London Business School. He has served as a visiting faculty member for technology and operations courses and holds a patent in the area of web services.
Lee McCabe

Lee McCabe

Advisor and Mentor

Vice President, North America at Alibaba Group
Lee McCabe is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. As Global Head of Travel, Education & Consumer Services Strategy at Facebook, Lee lead the company’s development and implementation of a holistic strategy for how it thinks about and works with Travel, Education and Consumer Service marketers. As global head of this effort, Lee worked closely with these verticals to set the course for how to best utilize Facebook’s family of apps and services. Prior to joining Facebook, Lee held several roles at Expedia. Notably, he oversaw and managed hotel partner strategy and operations across several regions including North America and Asia Pacific. With more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience, he has also held roles with eBay, Telstra and Warner Music.  Lee holds a Master of Arts in Media from Sheffield Hallam University and a Masters of Business Administration from Warwick Business School.
Norm Rose

Norm Rose

Advisor and Scout

President at Travel Tech Consulting, Inc.
Norm Rose is an Advisor and Scout with TSI, helping to recruit talented travel entrepreneurs for the incubator. He is a 31 year travel industry veteran with experience in all sectors of the industry. President and founder of Travel Tech Consulting, Inc.(TTCI), Norm is a recognized leader on how emerging technologies impact the global travel industry. For the past 12 years Norm has also been a subcontractor with PhoCusWright, Inc. the leading global travel research firm. At PhoCusWright Norm leads research on mobile technology and is the co-chair of the Travel Innovation Summit at the annual PhoCusWright Conference.
Mahendra Yadav

Mahendra Yadav

Technology Advisor

CEO of Tavisca
Mahendra Yadav is a technology advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Mahendra is the CEO of Tavisca one of the largest travel technology companies in India with 300+ employees. Tavisca’s technology platform empowers 35 travel companies across 4 continents, 1,000,000 travel searches a day, 10,000 bookings a day, across 55 suppliers, 900 airlines and 800,000 hotels globally. The Tavisca platform helps travel businesses focus more on their business and worry less about technology. Year in and year out, Tavisca is awarded as one of the top 100 businesses to work at in India.
Gary Doernhoefer

Gary Doernhoefer

Advisor and Mentor

Airline industry attorney and consultant
Gary Doernhoefer is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Gary is an attorney and consultant in the airline industry. He was the in-house lawyer for American Airlines for nine years. In 2000, he became General Counsel for Orbitz guiding the company through its startup launch in 2001, IPO in 2003 and acquisition in 2004.  He co-founded Accertify, Inc., an online credit card fraud solution that was acquired by American Express in 2010. From 2010-2013, Gary was General Counsel to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He now serves as a consultant to IATA, focusing on travel distribution and is a member of the investment committee for IATA’s NDC Innovation Fund. Gary is an investor, advisor to TravelRecon and is on the board of ETA, Inc.
Mike Putman

Mike Putman

Advisor and Mentor

Founder, Travel Team Consulting
Mike Putman is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Mike is a prolific travel entrepreneur having started with a single travel agency that grew into the largest privately held travel agency in the Southeast. He founded 11thHourVacations.com that was acquired by OneTravel.com in 2001. Mike then became the president of Rovia, LLC, where he developed the company into a global competitor earning the World Travel Award, for the World’s Leading On-line Travel Agency growing sales from 14 Million to over 200 Million in his 6.5 years. Today Mike runs Travel Team Consulting working with growth companies in the travel space.
David Atkins

David Atkins

Advisor and Mentor

Digital Pioneer, Thought Leader, Strategist, Columnist and Speaker

David Atkins is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. David has a deep passion and knowledge base for all things technology related with experience that is unmatched in the industry. He is often cited as an industry-leading digital marketer with a deep understanding of the underlying technology. His work has been cited in multiple Google Case studies among them one on long haul marketing for DMOs and one on marketing via Mobile.

David has been awarded many industry awards including the Top 25 Minds in Hospitality Sales and Marketing by HSMAI for his pioneering vision on Mobile in Travel and Tourism. He has been featured in TV shows like Hotel Impossible and has been a source across many news stories including in the NY Times and WSJ. http://www.digitaldnainfusion.com

Bill Niejadlik

Bill Niejadlik

Advisor and Mentor

Principal, Niejadlik Management and Consulting LLC

William J. Niejadlik is a leading travel technology consultant and has been leading his own practice since June of 2011. His specializations include online travel technology, GDS and direct-connect travel distribution, pricing and optimization systems, payment and fraud prevention systems, technology acquisitions and evaluations, and operational and organizational planning for travel companies.

William has been in travel technology since 1987 starting his career with contracts with the U.S. Air Force. He has been a researcher at the Flight Transportation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a founding member of Flight Scheduling Systems Inc., a team member at American Airlines Decision Technologies (later a part of Sabre), Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy at WorldTravel Partners (the former name of BCD Travel), and CTO/founder at Airtrade International Inc (vayama.com). He is now Principal at Niejadlik Management and Consulting, LLC, engaging in management and technology consulting with both start-ups and marketing leading companies with a focus on the Internet, travel, mobile and payments areas.

Dr. Florian Kandler

Dr. Florian Kandler

Advisor and Mentor

Co-Founder, Ulmon
Dr. Florian Kandler is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Florian Kandler co-founded Ulmon, a leading mobile travel platform based in Vienna. He was responsible for business development and user acquisition, growing downloads from zero to 15 million. He lead the efforts to raise 1.2 million Euro from Oliver Samwer’s venture firm Global Founders Capital last year. Ulmon is Florian’s third start-up after his four years working for an IT company in Munich, Germany. Before that, he wrote his PhD thesis at the E-Commerce Competence Center in Vienna, Austria; and his Master’s Thesis on the startup economy at DTU in Denmark. As a student, he founded Austria’s first entrepreneurs club. He loves to travel and build businesses. Connect with Florian here.
Zaid Al-Husseini

Zaid Al-Husseini

Advisor and Mentor

VP Product, Gogobot
Zaid Al-Husseini is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Zaid is an innovative product management leader with expertise in the growth and monetization of mobile, web and social media products. He serves as VP of Product at Gogobot, an award winning and leading start-up in the travel space. During his tenure, Gogobot has been Featured multiple times as a top App by both Apple & Google and a top travel app across numerous publications including Business Insider, the Travel Channel. Prior to Gogobot, Zaid was the lead product manager on Zynga’s award winning Farmville 2: Country Escape app. You can connect with Zaid here.
Joe Hyman

Joe Hyman

Advisor and Mentor

CEO, Vizergy
Joe Hyman is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Joe is the Founder and CEO of Vizergy® a Digital Travel Marketing firm in Jacksonville, FL. Vizergy drives over $2B in direct bookings for their hospitality clients. The agency focuses on Internet marketing strategies and deployment, website design, and reservation services, built on a proprietary cloud-based software platform giving Vizergy clients a competitive edge. Joe is recognized as one of HSMAI’s Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing. Vizery is a Inc 500/5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America for two consecutive years. You can connect with Joe here.
Daniel Friedli

Daniel Friedli

Advisor and Mentor

Managing Director, Travel in Motion
Daniel Friedli is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Daniel is Managing Director and co-founder of  Travel in Motion, an industry consultancy focused on the travel industry. Travel in Motion has a special focus on distribution, retailing, and sales related business and IT processes. Daniel has years of experience designing and developing airline distribution systems working for companies like EDS and Hewlett Packard. From 2011 until 2015, Daniel was a member of the IATA Simplifying the Business Think Tank from where the NDC and ONE Order concepts were initiated. Daniel works with travel companies and industry organizations to develop business strategies, support in redesigning business processes and evaluating and aligning IT systems.
Kate Murphy

Kate Murphy

Advisor and Mentor

President and CEO, Wings Travel Group (WTG)
Kate Murphy is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. A 28 year veteran of the travel industry, Kate Murphy is President and CEO of Wings Travel Group (WTG). Murphy has overseen the growth of WTG from a corporate only agency to a full service agency. She oversees strategic planning, day-to-day operations, preferred supplier negotiations & relationships and the exploration of new marketing opportunities for WTG. Murphy is an active member on a number of Advisory Boards including: Vacation.com International, Luxury Travel Exchange, Passport Online Inc., Travel Market Report, Travel Insured International’s and CLIA’s TAAB. She is WTG’s representative as a Charter Premium Member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). She is also on Travel Leaders of Tomorrow’s Advisory Board and has been a guest faculty speaker for them. Murphy is actively engaged in helping to bring new agents into our very vibrant industry.
David Millili

David Millili

Advisor and Mentor

Former CEO, Pegasus Solutions
David Millili is an advisor and mentor for Proxce one of our portfolio companies. David is the former CEO of Pegasus Solutions. David has 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry. As a former hotel General Manager, he has experience in all aspects of hotel operations and management, ranging from managing pre-opening operations to spearheading budgets in excess of $5 million annually. Open Hospitality is Mr. Millili’s second online venture. As co-founder of Timeless Hospitality, David was directly responsible for the successful launch of a start up company that generated profits within six months of launch, generated over $20 million in revenues for hotel clients in 2002 and raised $1.5 million in venture capital funds. You can connect with David here.
Kevin McLaughlin

Kevin McLaughlin

Advisor and Mentor

CEO, Smart Destinations
Kevin McLaughlin is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Kevin is known as a fast-moving innovator, CEO and visionary with extensive experience starting, growing and leading travel technology and Internet companies. Most recently, he was founder and CEO of Smart Destinations, the world’s leading attraction pass-company. He’s been on the leadership teams of successful venture-backed startups over the last 20 years, including Exhange.com (acquired by Amazon) and Netspoke (acquired by Premier Global). He is currently an advisor and angel investor in a number of travel and Internet startups, including EdTrips.com (www.edtrips.com). Kevin advises companies with a focus on developing world-class products, removing friction, and building great teams. You can connect with Kevin here.
Chad Hart

Chad Hart

Advisor and Mentor

Founder, Inertia Tours
Chad Hart is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Chad is the Founder of Inertia Tours Inc., one of the largest student travel companies in the U.S. Inertia Tours focuses on college spring break, college ski as well as high school senior graduation trips. His newest venture, GreenPathways.com acting as a partner focuses on Nicaragua Eco-Travel. He also operates 3 profitable transportation businesses. Chad holds a MBA from the University of Wisconsin, serves on the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has a soon to be best-selling book being published,“The Definitive Guide to Student Travel.” You can connect with Chad here.
Joe Bous

Joe Bous

Advisor and Mentor

Founder, Airfare.com
Joe Bous is an advisor and mentor for our portfolio of travel startups. Joe is a travel entrepreneur, investor, advisor and inventor. He is the Founder of Airfare.com, a large discount airfare OTA in the U.S. He is an Internet systems architect and has successfully sold a portfolio of patents in the credit card linked offer space to Google (GOOG). He is the founder of Valor Valor, focusing on real estate development in Washington DC. You can connect with Joe here.
Mikael Quilfen

Mikael Quilfen

Advisor and Mentor

Former GM Western Europe, HotelsCombined
Mikael Quilfen is a visionary and resourceful leader who has built strong brands and developed businesses, primarily in online travel, during the last 20 years. An entrepreneur at heart, he co-founded the European meta travel search engine Liligo (successfully sold to French SNCF in 2011), and later established HotelsCombined presence in Western Europe. Early achievements include pioneering Club Med’s first website in the USA in the mid nineties, launching Ebookers.com and Hotels.com brands in France in the early 2000s. Mikael is currently a board member and strategic advisor to several online businesses looking for marketing, business development and international expansion advice. You can reach Mikael here.
Robert Meza

Robert Meza

Advisor and Mentor

Dir. Business Development, ZUMATA
Robert Meza has 10+ years of Strategic Business Development and Digital Marketing experience and has worked on multiple continents from the US, Latin America, The Middle East, Europe and now Asia. In his roles he has helped companies and stakeholders understand how to approach and solve the business challenges they face on a daily basis so they can reach their goals and targets. In his current role, Robert is spearheading the marketing and development of ZUMATA’s Hotel Distribution API, IBM Watson-powered solutions for natural language search, machine learning, and A.I. customer support. ZUMATA is an anchor travel technology partner of IBM Watson.
Umesh Nair

Umesh Nair

Advisor and Mentor

Head of Corporate & Strategy, The Bird Group
Umesh Nair is an advisor/mentor to our portfolio of startups. Umesh Nair is Head of Corporate & Strategy for The Bird Group, one of the largest multifunctional concerns in the Technology, Services, Travel, Ecommerce, Luxury Retail, Education, Technology and Hospitality industries. Umesh is responsible for strategic commercial business and associations with global partners in Asia/Europe/India/Middle East/North American Market. An international executive with a focus on global growth, Umesh has 18 years of experience working in Germany, Singapore, India, Middle East, Switzerland and Europe across cultural multi-functional environment, covering various industry business verticals in start up, online, ecommerce, Information Technology, GDS, Media , Travel, Airline, Retail, Tie ups, Deal Closure, Strategic Alliances, Joint Venture formation and setting up scaling global expansion offices.
Chris Seek

Chris Seek

Advisor and Mentor

President/CEO, Solimar International

Chris Seek is an advisor/mentor to our portfolio of startups. He is is a sustainable tourism and marketing specialist with more then 15 years of experience working in the tourism industry. Chris has helped more then 50 tourism destinations and 1000 tourism enterprises develop and market visitor experiences that support biodiversity conservation, cultural heritage preservation, and the well-being of local residents.

Chris is the president and CEO of Solimar International, one of the world’s leading sustainable tourism development firms. Chris oversees the strategic direction of the company while ensuring all of Solimar’s clients are able to connect to the tourism market. Based in Washington DC, Chris manages Solimar’s work with international development organizations, national tourism authorities, and strategic partners including National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI).

Emmanuel Vranakis

Emmanuel Vranakis

UK/EU Counsel

Technology & Startup Lawyer
Emmanuel Vranakis is UK/EU counsel for Travel Startups Incubator. He is a technology and startup lawyer that worked at international City law firm DAC Beachcroft LLP. He acted for all types of technology businesses ranging from startups to major UK/US corporates e.g. WorkForce Software LLC. He has a particular focus on procurement of major IT systems, API Integrations & interoperability (especially in the health and travel space), cloud computing, Big Data/IoT, Oracle/IBM/Microsoft licensing and Privacy & Data Protection. He has helped with the launch of numerous travel startups. Highlights include advising BookingSync on the development of its BookingSync app centre. He has served on the Advisory Boards (legal) of BookingSync and ShareBoat and is currently an Advisory Board member at Hotel ExM. He is a mentor and founder of the legal mentoring schemes at the London School of Economics Incubator (LSE Generate) and Reload Greece.
Suhas Baliga

Suhas Baliga

India Counsel

Principal at Innove Law
Suhas Baliga is India counsel for Travel Startups Incubator. He is the Founder of Innove Law, advising on doing business in India, with a focus on businesses that are at the cutting edge of innovation and entrepreneurship. Suhas brings deep expertise in small and medium enterprises, venture capital, private equity and banking, deal negotiation, strategic and regulatory advice, and public policy.