The startup community in Bangkok is growing and the fantastic team from Hubba (the first coworking space in Bangkok and drivers of the startup ecosystem) have now been running Startup Weekend events for almost 3 years. Last year they ran such an event focused purely on building a travel startup in 48 hours and on 24-26 June 2015 they repeated it. This time the event was hosted in association with Amadeus.
With 53 attendees falling into the categories of Business, Designer or Developer it was set to be a great event. Some had experience in the travel industry but everyone had a passion for travel.
The format of a startup weekend is at the start anyone can pitch an idea for a business. The top ideas are then chosen and people form teams (consisting of business people, developers and designers) who will then spend the best part of 2 days developing the idea, validating the assumptions and that there is a need, scoping out at MVP (minimum viable product) designing and building a prototype, and finally pitching to the judges why their project is awesome!
The event started with 28 ideas being pitched any of which had literally been thought about a few seconds earlier. From these the top 9 ideas were chosen and these eventually merged into 7!
Here are the 7 ideas that were worked on:
- Home Cook: A platform of curated eating events that will be hosted in the comforts of someone’s home. They actually pivoted a little during the weekend to be much more event focused so the question is whether this would be enough to scale where other similar home dinners platforms have failed in Thailand.
- Homu: Marketplace for Japanese expats and local home loaners. Eventually trying to then cross sell lifestyle products such as travel. Certainly a big opportunity but the real question is would they have what it takes to grab the market from the 40 traditional agents who control the Japanese rental market in Bangkok.
- Shamebet: A motivational app utilizing negative reinforcement and peer pressure – with a focus on motivating people to do stuff while travelling. Maybe one of the most fun ideas of the weekend but without a serious business model was going to have a tough time competing.
- Tour Now: An app allowing people to easily discover and book tours and experiences that are available last minute. Similar to what Hotel Quickly and Hotel Tonight are doing for hotels but targeting the much more fragmented and low tech day tour industry definitely makes it challenging to manage last minute availably.
- Where to Go: A solution for web-savvy budget conscious travelers to discover where they can go within their budget, and displaying the options with a breakdown of what they should allocated for transport, hotels, food and activities.
- Yo Life: An app that plans your travel for the rest of your life and adapts your travel plans as you adapt. Mixed in with this was user generated video content to get people excited about the proposed plan. Whether the business could survive on selling leads raised questions.
- Zero Baggage: A platform that rents out daily essentials (including clothes) so you can travel baggage-free. While targeting the independent traveler, at least a few people asked whether this may even be more suited to the business traveler.
Throughout the event teams got the opportunities to discuss their projects with a range of coaches from design, business and industry backgrounds. Industry coaches included representatives from Amadeus, Accor, Tourkrub.co, Tickets.co.th, JetAbroad
Several of the teams worked to 3am or later both nights and by the end had some impressive looking prototypes, so that when it came down the pitching there was a lot for everyone to talk about. The 5 Judges came from a variety of backgrounds. Representing the travel industry was Bart Bellers from Amadeus. Other judges included the founders of some of the most successful startups in Thailand – Wongnai, Ookbee and Builk.
When all pitching was done and the judges had deliberated the final results were as follows:
1st Place: Zero Baggage
2nd Place: Tour Now
3rd Place: Home Cook
While Zero Baggage at first mention may have seemed like a rather crazy idea, as quoted by one of the judges they saw “Zero Baggage” as a potentially disruptive business model. So will Zero Baggage become the next Airbnb?
Zero Baggage and HomeCook won the popular vote prizes as voted by everyone attending the event.
However, credit must be given to all the teams as although some of them feel down on the business model side they had worked solidly throughout the weekend to come up with prototypes or mock ups of the proposed product.
Note: The author of this report was a member of the “Tour Now” team