It was about 6:30pm in the evening, there was nip in the air and a perfect time to drive back home. But when you are supposed to get on a call with veteran travel entrepreneur, strategic business advisor and founder of Travel Startups Incubator, Matt Zito, one won’t mind staying in the office. I spoke with Matt last week and he shared some wonderful insights about Travel Startups Incubator, the startups they have invested in so far and the launch of their India operations.
Travel Startups Incubator was launched about a year and half ago in September 2014 by Matt and his wife Nicole S. Zito. Later they hired Mike Coletta in November 2015 as the Managing Director. Mike brings to the team, 14+ years experience as a travel entrepreneur and travel tech organiser. The three of them work on a day to basis building the company.
Travel Startups Incubator has raised $1Million from a venture capitalist in UK and Dubai to invest in 30 companies. The program is $25,000 and they work with startups via a virtual Global Incubator program for 6 months. The program is less of an incubator and more of a business and strategic marketing advisory where Matt & his team help startups move the needle with their business-development relationships in the travel industry.
How does Travel Startups Incubator work?
The virtual incubator has an advisory & mentoring team of 15 high level travel executives from Amadeus, Facebook and others who have built multi billion dollar companies. Each startup gets one or two mentors to work with them during the 6 month program which works out very really well.
The company is also building a global travel technology investor platform and has approximately 150 investors in its database. This platform aggregates all companies that have received investment from Travel Startups Incubator and are aiming to raise further capital. The system acts as a private pool where all startups can upload their pitch decks, information about the company, management etc. Investors are also sent monthly reports which keeps them in the loop about who is doing what and their growth traction etc.
Why is it different from other Startup Incubator Programs?
While the Travel Startups Incubator program is of 6 months contractual commitment, the TSI team continues to work with those who are succeeding or have a potential to succeed in the near future. For instance, they are still backing 4 of the startups and helping them grow the company after making an initial investment in 2014.
As Matt says, “The reality is in the startup world, it takes 3 years to build a company. While there are guys in the online world getting acquired in 12 to 18 months for their technology or team, the underlying foundation of doing business is to build a profitable one with revenue”.
The real value of Travel Startups Incubator is with its business development network across the travel industry. They have built a strategic alliance with Amadeus, the leading GDS & IT Tech solutions provider in the world. In addition, they have business development relationships with Skyscanner, easyJet, Emirates, Tahiti Innovation Labs and many more.
Matt adds, “Our bigger vision of what we’re trying to do is through the advancement of technology, evolution of investing online, someday travelstartups.co will enable for any travel startup in the world to raise money via our platform”.
What makes Travel Startups Incubator different is that it typically invests in alpha/beta stages, which means the products are either not built or are ready to show. Having said that there are few companies that are in their first year, generating some revenue and are looking at raising some funds.
Travel Startups Incubator in India
Travel Startups Incubator will be represented in India by InnoveLaw, a Mumbai based law practice firm. Its presence in India was always on the cards as Matt says that currently they get 40 to 50% of startup applications from Indian travel entrepreneurs. India is the number 2 country behind United States in-terms of the overall website traffic.
The incubator has invested in 14 companies so far and has just made an offer to an Indian travel startup company. The company will be the first Indian startup in the Travel Startups Incubator program. Travel Startups Incubator usually takes a startup it likes to an in-discussion, relationship building phase where they monitor the startup’s growth for two to three months before making an offer. For instance, they are now tracking multiple tours & activities startups in India for the next 60 to 90 days and will possibly make an offer to one of them in the next couple of months.
TravHQ Take: What Indian Travel Startups need to know?
Travel Startups Incubator program presents a fantastic mentorship opportunity for all Indian travel entrepreneurs who are working on exciting ideas. The cumulative value of the incubator is far higher than the pre-seed/seed funding investment of $25,000. The team has a strong network in the travel industry which can provide the right impetus to all startups who’re looking to grow to the next level.