Entrepreneurs are generally not particularly shy people and sometimes they even border on the arrogant. It goes with the territory – he or she who shouts the loudest gets noticed.
Nothing new there.
Journalists love them and their peers in the industry often take notice and wonder what the fuss is all about, if there’s any substance behind the bluster, etc.
But even by the standards of your average mouthy CEO, TripFab’s appearance on the travel startup scene in December 2011 took some beating.
The puff worked.
When TripFab completed its TLabs Showcase in the same month [TripFab promises game-changing booking model, urges industry to buy new underwear], CEO Michael de la Rosa’s strategy seemed to work. It got everyone’s attention.
The original idea was to build a “new travel platform for buying hotels, ground services, destination tour and activities”.
Apparently backed with $400,000 in funding (a further $700,00 was added later on¬†from a group of private investors, mostly from who had invested in de la Rosa’s previous startup, CodeMyConcept), TripFab promised the earth.
The service eventually launched a few months ago, concentrating initially on consumers looking for travel products in Central America.
Some industry watchers with more than a smattering of knowledge in the tour and activity sector said privately that de la Rosa MIGHT be on to something, but had huge challenges ahead, not least because a myriad of other startups had also woken up to the opportunities.
But still, after the arrogance shown during the initial launch phase, TripFab was one to watch just in case de la Rosa came through on his promise to make the industry collapse into fits of, err, something.
Unfortunately and with perhaps huge inevitability, it hasn’t worked out for de la Rosa and his team.
Less than nine months after the bluster, TripFab is now up for sale.
De la Rosa writes via email:
“It was fun, but I couldn’t hit the mark with travel. I am back to my roots and working in something similar like my last company I sold last year. I know the web dev sector well. Travel was new, and I couldn’t make it happen.”
The sale sheet, which includes the domain TripHut, says:
“Our loss is your gain, and we are looking to recoup back some of the investment put in. We have tons of stuff going along with this sale, and the new owner with some¬†experience¬†in travel is completely setup to make revenue.”
“These products really need some love. We have poured over a year of work into them, countless hours, countless sweat and blood. We are looking for someone looking to take the whole base ready who has a marketing background and scale this up.”
Similar to ex-Joobili CEO Jared Salter, who saw his startup miss the mark but wrote on Tnooz with some valuable advice¬†to fellow travel newbies, de la Rosa offers this:
- Credit card processing is a bitch in travel. Two weeks after launch we lost our processor and for over 2 months we were applying to every processor we could find. No one wants to touch travel. We applied to over 50. This hurt us big time not being able to take credit cards for over 2 months.
- Travel industry is expensive. Partnerships are key, getting inventory solo takes big money and lots of work. It’s really slow and expensive to innovate in travel. Flying around Latin America to signup big hotel chains for awesome pricing was expensive.
- Pricing is everything, especially online. There didn’t seem to be any travel loyalty to a product, rather a price for consumers.
- There is so much to learn with travel. So much. A year later, and I am still learning how it works. Seriously, work in this industry before you even start something in it. Go learn about it, work in it, make contacts and then go kick ass.
- We had a lot of fun talking shit and making noise in the beginning. It worked and it worked well for this industry. If I had to do it all over again I would make even more noise. We got over 10,000 signups for talking bullshit and making bold statements. People eat it up. In real life, I’m not a dick. I remember meeting with a VC in San Francisco who saw my blog posts and wanted to meet me, he was expecting a different loud obnoxious person – unfortunately that’s not me.
So, farewell, then, de la Rosa. All the best in your new venture. And thanks for entertaining us all (and saving us a trip to the local clothing store).