Startup pitch: FlitWays offers multiple modes of airport transportation
FlitWays is an emerging travel startup dedicated to securing transportation to and from airports.
The startup offers one-stop seamless booking for taxis, black cars and airport shuttles, and currently serves 89 cities around the world with access to over 15,000 vehicles.
The startup currently has partnerships in place that bring on inventory from brands like cabforce, Megabus, and Wingz, and Mozio.
Other linkups include Rome2rio and deemground. Flitways has also opened up a developer API in a bid to make it simple for other services to offer searchable and bookable airport transportation inventory.
The 11 person team is headed by founder Tobi Mac, working alongside business development managers Zacky Hamraz and Kevork Hagopian, in addition to technology director Eric Grets.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
FlitWays idea came during one of my trips to London. I was able to book my flight, hotel and train ticket online but couldn’t find a seamless way to book a travel ride.
So I decided to found a travel tech company that will incorporate travel ride into the travel industry to make travel ride available at every major travel point of sale.
What are your funding arrangements?
FlitWays has raised $600,000.00 from founders, incubator, friends and family. We will be launching its seed fund campaign in the next 2 months to raise capital for expansion.
What is your estimation of market size?
The travel market grossed over $3.2 trillion in 2013, FlitWays aims to incorporate and lead the Travel Ride Pre-Booking fragment (5% of the total travel market) by partnering with major travel vendors
What other companies do you see as competition?
What is your revenue model and strategy for profitability?
Most of our consumers are acquired through a partnership with travel vendors. Which gives us the opportunity to minimize marketing cost and focus on establishing more partnerships. We also plan to promote our brand using B2C marketing concept to gain brand awareness and exposure for sales elevation.
What problem does the business solve?
Travelers and businesses use various travel vendors to book Airline tickets, Hotel Rooms, Cruises and Car Rentals. FlitWays allow travellers to seamless add a travel ride to their itinerary for a complete door-to-door travel experience.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
The initial idea was to develop an app that will allow a traveller to pre-book a taxi. So we named the company OnCabs. We later added luxury cars like black cars for people that wants to travel in style and airport shuttles for group travel
We rebranded to FlitWays to have an expounding name for better recognition by partners and travellers.
Why should people or companies use the business?
FlitWays is designed for private and business travellers that loves to have their trips well planned.
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
We are constantly pushing our social media, online and promotion campaigns to get the word out and improve our brand awareness.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
The uniqueness of the market we’re targeting is to simply dominate the ground travel booking segment of the travel industry. In the next 3 years, we aim to become the premier provider of ground travel booking for the global travel industry.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that it requires a startup like yours to help it out?
We are adding a missing piece for a well-planned trip which is to have a ride waiting for you at the airport/bus-station/cruise port to take you to your final destination.
What other technology company (in or outside of travel) would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?
Kayak. We appreciate their idea of search one and done. We offer the same value to our travellers.
Which company would be the best fit to buy your startup, and why?
Kayak, Expedia, Booking.com and major travel brands. Acquiring FlitWays will give them to opportunity to add ground travel booking on their platform.
Describe your startup in three words.
Seamless travel ride.
Peripherally, other transportation companies such as GrabTaxi and Uber are raising millions for on-demand transportation, and shared ride startups such as Lyft are also biting into the ground transportation pie. There’s a lot going on, and differentiation and competitiveness are increasingly challenged as the players seek to one-up each other.
The key here is going to be widespread distribution, so making sure the inventory is accessible in the most amount of places.
That’s essential to ensure that business travelers and travel agents book the rides. It’s equally important for the startup to provide the deepest inventory available, so the most amount of vehicles in as many airports as possible.
This makes it more likely that the user will find what she’s looking for – and become a repeat customer.
Also, the startup must thoroughly vet transportation providers, so that chauffeurs are providing a memorable experience that differentiates the brand – and ensures a loyal customer base.
Finally, the mobile app is vital for success in the last-minute ground transportation game. The FlitWays experience is designed well, and easy to use with clear, straightforward information.
This is an important step to success in the ground transportation game.
Nick Vivion is a writer and strategist. He was a Tnooz reporter and global events lead between August 2012 and July 2015. He was the launch co-founder of Booty's, a global street food restaurant in New Orleans and was recently AVP Operations, North America, at Zomato.