Travel Startup Wisdom from Web in Travel


Bright eyed and bushy tailed, and the wonderful sense of optimism that carries travel startups into their early stages.

And then the chance for the old timers (experience-wise, of course) to either rain on the parade or at least give the newbies a pause for thought with their endeavours.

The Bootcamp part of the WebinTravel conference in Singapore this week convened a panel with expertise covering areas such as fund-raising, investing, selling and staying the course in the world of travel startups.

  • Fritz Demopoulos, CEO, Queen’s Road Capital (also founded Qunar)
  • Patrick Bosworth, and co-founder, Duetto
  • Rod Cuthbert, CEO, Rome2Rio (also founded Viator)
  • Stephan Ekbergh, CEO and founder, Travelstart
  • Turochas Fuad, co-founder, Travelmob (sold to HomeAway)

The theme of the session was around taking advantage of the disadvantages that are inherent around how many travel startups operate.

A summary of the collected wisdom from the panel is listed below:

  • Always understand, learn from and work out the weaknesses of the incumbents in a sector – but pretending they do not exist will never work.
  • Retain a warrior spirit as a significant part of the company culture.
  • Stick with an idea if you are making money and showing growth, even if everyone else appears to dismiss the opportunity – you may know more than they do.
  • Always bear any rejections for funding with good grace and use it as motivation to keep up with or beat those that have managed to attract money.
  • Don’t be afraid to ride on the coat-tails of others (“The Airbnb for China”, “The Kayak for Japan”).
  • Screen your investors as much – or more – than they would do with you.
  • Don’t get into the trap of being too careful, over-cautious and procrastinating over decisions.
  • When you make a wrong hire, take action as soon as possible – and explain your thinking behind it to the team.
  • If it turns out that customers (both consumers or industry partners) really don’t care about what you’re trying to do (i.e. ZERO growth), then don’t do it.

And, finally, the quote of the session (via Ekbergh):”

“When people say you’re bad, you’re probably not THAT bad – but when people say you’re good, you’re probably not THAT good either.”

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About Author

Founded by two travel and technology professionals with years of experience in Asia, Representasia specialises in sales & marketing representation throughout Southeast Asia for travel/hospitality technology providers and travel-related startups, as well as providing marketing consultancy services for hotels and travel businesses in the region.

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