Hey Everyone - Dez here from Apex Venture Studios. We’re keeping it short and sweet this week. No semi-relatable anecdotes. No slightly uplifting quotes. Just pure, hard nosed, startup investigative journalism. Just kidding. I’ve been thinking a decent amount about life lately, specifically the inflection point that I’m at in my own life. As a working stiff in my mid 20’s I have to admit two things - 1) The idea of owning a home, given I live and work in New York, is almost inconceivable and 2) The idea of working for someone else for the next 40 years is equally as daunting.
These two realities and really, it’s more of my acceptance of these realities, has caused me to rethink my relationship with money, and what I do with my money. I want my money to be well spent. I want my money to go toward worthy causes, and I want my money to work for me. That last component is something I believe that all founders acknowledge on some level, or feel innately in their bones. They want to make an investment in themselves, and their own ideas, their own convictions - that allows them to directly benefit from their efforts. I’m not saying this doesn’t occur in other professions. I just believe that, by assuming the risk of investing in yourself, the potential reward later down the line is much higher.
Anyways. That’s my brief aside for this week. I hope all of you get to find the thing that allows you to make your money work for you, in the same way that Charlotte Franzellin of Trippers is making group travel easier for all of us. Now I’ll be the first to say, as soon as this pandemic is over, I am hopping on a flight to anywhere. I’m getting a one way ticket for a post-pandemic vacation and I hope my whole squad is coming with me. Now naturally my squad, if it’s anything like most mid-20’s friend groups, will disagree on where to go, how much to spend, and how long we should be gone. Charlotte and her team are tackling that pesky problem of planning group trips and are looking forward to the days when the phrase, “Does he have Corona?” is just talking about beer.
APEX: Can you describe what Trippers is?
Charlotte: Yes, Trippers is a travel planning app specifically made for group planning. We’ve tried to replicate the travel agency process but took it one step further. We want to help people from the early beginnings, when deciding where and when to go, and we want to do it all while minimising the human component of the travel agency. The two big parts of planning any trip are finding a suitable destination with optimal flights and deciding what to do once on the trip. We will do all of this for you. The itinerary itself is based on the inputs people give, and it’s based on our own expert advice. People need to provide information and we optimize between places and time.
APEX: Why did you focus on group travel instead of individual travel?
Charlotte: More of a personal reason, it was where I identified a need in the market. When I was looking at the competitors or the market in general, once you start looking at groups, it becomes very manual. I haven’t found a platform that addresses the challenges of group travel. I had been traveling a lot with friends when I came back from the US. It was a big pain point of mine, people have different constraints, and it becomes difficult with more and more people
APEX: People value experiences more than things, what do you think of that statement?
Charlotte: I agree with that, but I think that people are starting to come around more to purchasing or paying for experiences. I am an example of that, and I would much rather be provided an experience over clothes.
APEX: Why did you decide to launch Trippers?
Charlotte: After a few years in the consulting space, I was ready for a new challenge. I had this cool idea on the side, so I thought let’s give it a try for a year and see if I can get it off the ground. And now we’ve done that, and it’s been so exciting to reflect on what I’ve learned for a year.
APEX: How did you make the transition from the renewable energy industry to starting a mobile app?
Charlotte: I am a big traveler at heart, but I am also passionate about renewable energy. It’s a bit contradictory at times, but it just is the way the world is now. We love to discover new cultures, and explore the world but it doesn't mean we don't care for our planet. There are ways to be more environmentally focused when you travel and we will definitely look to incorporate more of that in the future of Trippers as well. Overall, though, I will say it hasn’t been a straightforward transition.
APEX: What are some of the challenges you currently face in growing Trippers?
Charlotte: My number one challenge was finding cofounders. Thankfully now I have some great co-founders, but it took five or six months to get here. The challenge now that we’re almost launching is getting traction. We’re in a very awkward phase of not having a product yet and trying to get people excited. Obviously the situation we’re in today (Coronavirus) is challenging although we think focusing on European travels like Trippers will do will give us a chance in the current situation where far-flung destinations are off the book.
APEX: And who would you describe is best positioned to use Trippers?
Charlotte: Our target customer is 18 – 35ish, people with time consuming jobs, consulting, banking, lawyers. The people who can afford to spend for help. In terms of geography we are constrained to European cities, but it is available to any user. We also have the system of low cost travel in Europe so it’s more focused on short term getaways.
APEX: So obviously a business like Trippers needs a lot of data. What is your approach to aggregating the user inputs to appropriately feed an algorithm?
Charlotte: One big source is Google Places, it helps us figure out the best restaurants and things like that. A lot of human input has also gone into categorizing all of the different cities for attributes like this city is for people who like to eat, people who like to go to the beach, and so on. For flights, we work with Kiwi.com, they have a really cool platform called Tequila that we’ve been fortunate enough to leverage data from.
APEX: What are some of the biggest differences between a US travel consumer and European travel consumer?
Charlotte: I only spent three years in the US, so I am not an expert in the matter. But I would say a US traveler typically spends a longer period of time on holiday. You’re usually spending a week minimum. There is a distance aspect in the US that’s a challenge that Europeans don’t deal with. I could literally go to Turkey for a weekend and not worry about it. The second big problem in the US is annual leave [vacation time]. In my experience in the US some people would only get 10 days, Europeans can get up to 40 days. In a sense, US travelers are willing to splurge a little more because of the constraints.
APEX: How do you prioritize growing Trippers whether it is growing the product, the users, or the brand?
Charlotte: We’ve had two separate teams from the beginning. We have our tech team and our marketing team. I did read early on that you shouldn’t leave out marketing, because the product isn’t everything. We wanted to build a base. So we’re going with the flow a little bit, we’re focused on building a great product, and once it’s out there in the world, we’ll have to see what happens.
APEX: What does success look like for Trippers in the next 6 months?
Charlotte: That’s a great question. In the next 6 months, my goal is to get a good enough product out there to go to investors and get some funding.
APEX: Any advice for an aspiring entrepreneur?
Charlotte: Advice that I would have is to really start with getting the right team before spending hours and hours on how to build something, unless you can do it all yourself. Don’t spend months getting workflow in place. Focus on getting on the right people.
TL;DR - Trippers is a travel planning platform built specifically for groups
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