Monday, February 08, 2010

Steve Sherlock of Oodles: the search for funding and the deal with Wotif that almost happened

Car rental search site Oodles is part meta-search, part travel agent and part loyal program deal search site. The classic meta-search part is the ability for consumers to search multiple sites in one go. The travel agent part is that Oodles collects commission on paid bookings (when customer pays car company) not on a per click meta-search basis. The interesting loyalty program part is that if you give your Airline or Car frequent flyer number to Oodles, then they will add to the search results specialist loyalty program deals. Means that a person who is both a Velocity frequent flyer (Virgin Blue), Qantas Frequent Flyer and Hertz Gold Club member will see an integrated display including special deals from Europcar (Virgin partner), Avis (Qantas) and Hertz as well as other deals from Thrifty. This is a great and - as far as I can tell - a unique offering in car rental and meta-search generally.

I was talking about Oodles today with Founder and MD Steve Sherlock. Steve and Oodles are in the middle of a search for a new round of funding. In a true web 2.0 fashion Steve is blogging his way through the experience in series of "diary of an entrepreneur raising capital" entries over at the anthill website. Included is a story about how Oodles was almost acquired by Australian online travel giant It is an interesting series of diary notes and a recommended read.

I like the different angle that Oodles has taken from others. Allows consumers to see a display of a combination of inventory (loyalty program discounted and regular) that I have not seen on any other online travel site. Oodles already have the car rental traffic lead in Australia so appear to be executing well. The challenge for them is the constant start-up problem in Australia - finding the funding to continue to feed the growth.

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