Travolution Start-up Summit 2018 certainly lived up to its billing by turning out to be a highly informative event attended by over 100 delegates.
First up was Secret Escapes of luxury travel flash sales renown. Effectively becoming the Groupon of luxury travel, their co-founder Tom Valentine explained how through a series of venture capital funding rounds Secret Escapes now has a presence in over 20 territories and is projecting a business cap of 1 billion within the next couple of years - all this from a 2010 start-up!
Next up was a round-table discussion between Stewart Baird, of Stone Ventures, Morgann Lesné, from Cambon and Travelport ’s regional MD Paul Broughton with Q & A from the audience. A diverse range of topics was debated including:
- the difficulties UK start-ups face compared with other countries,
- the level of bond funding required to obtain ATol Licences and
- the diminishing pool of available talent together with emerging skill shortages.
Comments advised that TV programmes like Dragon’s Den have not helped because they encourage entrepreneurs to approach investors in a “combative” way rather than thinking of finance companies as partners.
Start-up businesses were urged to embrace new technology such as artificial intelligence at the front end - ” “Investing in this type of technology is massively important in driving that immediacy and personalisation for start-ups.”
Next up was the pitching competition were seven new start-up entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to the audience which included a number of VC’s. The ideas were very strong and ranged from a business hiring out your airport parked up car to a new business offering last minute bookings via an app on chartered coach services. This section was well received and it’s humbling to see the self-belief and fearlessness of new business in its infancy.
Last up was Culture Trip who recently announced their intention to create a new online travel division ahead of securing $80m VC funding. Founder Kris Naudts, a former psychiatrist, related his inspirational story of how he took the company from concept to the fast-growing success it is today.
All in all, a very good event well received on the day and here at the TheICEway we look forward to being able to offer our cutting-edge technology and business support to these and other new companies as they begin to seek out the expertise that allows them to concentrate on their core business.