The economic shift towards collaborative consumption is transforming multiple industries, with travel being the vertical that is perhaps most profoundly affected. In 2018 alone, the short-term rental market alone was valued at $169 billion, driving the booming sharing economy forward and acting as a catalyst to an influx of travel technology solutions being introduced into the market –from alternative accommodation to new types of transport.
From Israel to SE Asia, the travel tech ecosystem is blossoming around the world, churning out disruptors that are revolutionizing all things travel. New takes on ride-sharing apps, flight trackers, and booking solutions are just a few of the ongoing metamorphosis of the travel industry.
Here are 8 entrepreneurs and their startups playing significant roles in this reinvention of the global travel industry:
Before Selina existed, Rafael Muser served 12 years as a commander in one of Israel’s most elite army units. After completing his military service, he moved to Central America where he joined Selina’s Co-founder, Daniel Rudasevski, in creating Dekel, a Panama-based development company.
Fast-forward to today, and Selina, whose offering centers on a hospitality concept catered to a new generation of travelers, has raised $100 million at an $850 million valuation for its network of living-coworking-activity spaces across the world geared towards digital nomads.
2. William Li (Li Bin), Founder and CEO, NIO
Known as the “Elon Musk” of China, Li is the Chinese billionaire who has co-founded or invested in more than 40 companies, with NIO, the autonomous electric car company, his crown jewel. NIO is based in Shanghai and has received investments from some of Asia’s most prominent companies, including Tencent, Baidu, and Lenovo.
Li founded NIO in November 2014, and with a public listing on the New York Stock Exchange last year in the books, NIO, and Li, are positioned well as the leading innovators in the race for autonomous, electric vehicles in the massive Asian market.
3. Amiad Soto, Co-Founder and CEO, Guesty
Amiad Soto founded short-term property management platform Guesty with his identical twin brother in 2013 after uncovering just how much time and effort it takes to list your apartment on Airbnb and accommodate guest requests, cleanings and more. Today, Guesty is a Y Combinator graduate, #20 on Israel’s Most Promising Startups list, as well as the world’s highest-funded platform for short-term property management, with $60 million in funding.
The company boasts features that simplify all aspects of managing short-term rentals across Airbnb, Booking.com and more — such as a Unified Inbox to communicate with all guests in one place, and a Multi-Calendar tool that syncs reservations from across all booking channels. Even Google took notice, choosing it as one of eight startups to get behind for its 2019 Startup Growth Lab Program.
4. Bala Chandran, Co-Founder and CEO, Lumo
A self-described aviation geek and data nerd, Chandran is the Co-Founder, alongside Hamsa Balakrishnan, of Lumo — an intriguing startup tackling the endemic problem of flight delays. The airline industry loses more than $60 billion annually from flight delays in the form of operating and productivity costs, which Chandran and Lumo believe can be drastically reduced with predictive AI flight analysis.
Chandran and Lumo provide an all-encompassing solution for travelers, airlines, travel management, corporate booking agencies, and insurance companies to minimize the impact of flight disruptions, making the headaches of a long-standing industry problem more manageable. Founded in 2015, the company raised $4 million and has attracted notable investors such as NASA and JetBlue Technology Ventures.
5. Daniel Ramot, Co-Founder and CEO, Via
Via Co-Founder & CEO Daniel Ramot received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in neuroscience and built supercomputers designed to discover new pharmaceutical drugs, subsequently going on to develop avionic systems for the Israeli Air Force — and that’s all before he founded Via in 2012, a ridesharing app that has since raised over $450 million to date.
Via provides on-demand transit on a mass scale by taking multiple passengers heading in the same direction and booking them into a shared vehicle, seeking to replace the need for private cars altogether.
6. Michael Ros & Casper Knieriem, Co-Founders, Bidroom
Airbnb’s model upended the hotel industry by offering much more diverse, flexible, and affordable options for staying in major cities around the world. Bidroom, initially launched in beta by Ros and Knieriem in The Hague in 2014, has skyrocketed in popularity as a “Travel Community” app that offers steep discounts on hotel bookings via its membership model. And a return to hotel offerings at affordable prices is rapidly gaining momentum among travelers seeking the comfortable amenities and experience of a hotel stay.
Bidroom has no commission fees, which enables hotels to offer lower prices, and even extend additional accommodations to Bidroom members. Bidroom was named “The Best Travel Startup in The Netherlands” in 2018 by Travel Magazine, and is partnered with high-profile firms like Visa and AWS.
7. Nir Erez, Co-Founder and CEO, Moovit
Nir Erez, the CEO and Co-Founder of Moovit, is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of leading technology startups. Nir, along with Moovit Co-Founder Roy Bick, has revolutionized urban mobility by creating the world’s first crowdsourced application for public transit navigation. Today the Moovit app is used by 150 million travelers in 44 different languages across 2,200 cities in 80 countries.
Just how prominent has Moovit become? It’s downloaded by an average of over a million new users daily.
8. Ariel Cohen, Co-Founder & CEO, TripActions
Ariel’s background as a technology executive who led teams at Jive, HP, and Mercury culminated in him co-founding TripActions, a corporate travel platform that integrates with company HR and expense systems.
With TripActions, business travelers can arrange flights, hotels, and transportation, with 24/7 support. In fact, TripActions wasn’t his first go-around at the startup rodeo — he and his co-founder, Ilan Twig, had previously launched StreamOnce, which was later acquired by Jive Software. Recently, TripActions raised $250 million in Series D funding, bringing the business’s total funds raised to $480 million. The company now boasts a $4 billion valuation.