WebInTravel hosted a "Start-Up Pitch" session. Much in the form of a very scaled down TechCrunch50, this session saw a short list of three companies engaging in a strict 5 minute pitch to a judging panel made up of investors and venture capitalist. The three finalists in the pitch were
- entrip. a travel organisation company based in India. Presented by founder and boss Anthony Hsiao. This company is trying to be the ultimate in travel organisation mash-ups. A way to bring together all of the elements of planning, tracking and sharing a trip. It ha as UI that enables a traveller to plot on a map where they are going and then have automated links to content, information, booking profiles and a place to store and share. Planning sites are gaining traction recently. GoPlanit and TripIt have been passed members of the TechCrunch50 (interview with GoPlanit here and TripIt here). entrip's difference is in its UI. By using a map based approach entrip gives the user a very different approach to planning and booking. The site has just started so there are challenges ahead fro Hsiao and the rest of the team but is a great beginning.
- Conference Bay is trying to be the eBay/Priceline of conferences. A market place that gives conference organisers and opportunity to distribute their tickets on name your own price/auction model. A clearing house for conference tickets. The theory being that every incremental ticket is pure profit for a conference organiser given the high sunk costs. I see the market here but the challenge is that conference organisers are very wary of open up any channel that promotes discounting. To get a conference up and running it is critical to get people booking early rather than waiting for deals and the last minute. That said, with economic doom and gloom all around us this might be the perfect time to be an aggregator of the potentially dropping demand for conferences.
- TripFilms was the final pitch of the day. The pitch was led by Jim Donnelly (founder and former boss of the now Sabre owned IgoUgo). Jim is an investor in TripFilms, the TripFilms founder and boss is his ex-partner in IgoUgo (Tony Cheng). Jim's pitch was a direct one. TripFilms is IgoUgo but in video. A place for the creation and distribution of high quality destination and travel videos.
Who won? entrip pulled the "people's choice award" by wining the popular vote from the audience but TripFilms secure the title by winning over the judging panel. The panel was impressed by the pedigree of the founders of TripFilms (they had already built and sold a company) as well as the immediacy of the business model around video content. On Conference Bay the panel expressed the same concerns I have above. For entrip, the panel loved the site but belived there were a lot of challenges in getting the distribution right.
What's your vote?
Official WIT version of the story here.