Greece’s Emerging Travel Start-ups: Part 1
An ever growing ecosystem of technology startup is on the rise in Greece. Mostly in Athens, these startups can be attributed to a couple of things, namely a highly skilled workforce who couldn't get a cushy job at the country's public sector.
Secondly, the staggering rate of youth unemployment, which reached 65% in May for people between 15-24, has led to many young people creating jobs for themselves. It is my intention to cover the activities of these young and energetic Greek startup companies via this blog.
I'll start with Greece's heavy tourism industry, as according to the latest figures from SETE, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, Greece is on track for a record year of 17.5 million international arrivals and €11.5Bn of direct revenue from tourism.
So it comes as no surprise that a number of Greek startups are one way or another related to the tourism and hospitality industries.
This blog post will focus on travel startups with a technology twist. It's exciting to see that Greek travel startups are solving a variety of problems present in the tourism industry, from fancy algorithmic travel matching and selling of TripTao and Offerial or the alternative approach to finding accommodation of Travelmyth, Triptao, Captainwise and Vervendo. Innovative solutions to discovery services for local attractions and experiences from Locish and Dopios, also figure prominently.
If you are looking for a culinary tour of Athens, to kitesurf with the pro's in Paros, or attend a craft beer tour of San Francisco, Dopios (www.dopios.com) has you covered. Dopios (which means "local" in Greek), launched initially with the aim to introduce tourists to the "real" Greece. Today, its objective is to become a global community marketplace of tailor made travel experiences curated by locals. Dopios is trying to solve the perennial travel problem of finding the "real" experience while traveling, allowing you to find alternative travel experiences to the usual travel guide faire. It is already offering local experiences in Athens, Paris, and Berlin, as well as in a number of locations in Greece, Spain, Costa Rica, Istanbul, Switzerland, Romania, Italy and the US. Next month will see the official launch of the Dopios London community, with more popular European destinations to follow. Dopios has raised a seed investment round of €120,000 with the Jeremie Openfund II.
If Dopios takes a more macro approach to local travel experiences, Locish (www.locish.com) takes a more micro approach. Locish allows users to query local subject matter experts on what to do at any given time in a destination, i.e. What's the best budget chinese in San Francisco Chinatown? These recommendations come from people with similar lifestyles and tastes, and are not "one-for-all" recommendation systems like Tripadvisor and Yelp. Locish has launched in Athens, New York and San Francisco, with the whole of the US coming soon. Locish has raised a seed investment round of €60,000 with the Jeremie Openfund II.
Discoveroom (www.discoveroom.com) aims to fill a gap between mega hotel booking sites such as Booking.com and the likes of Airbnb. It is geared towards small scale lodging operators (guest houses, BnB's and vacation rentals), offering them free use of a back end reservation and client management system that can be accessed via the web or smartphone. In return, Discoveroom gets a commission from bookings made via its platform. The initial target market for Discoveroom are the 20,000 holiday and other short-stay accommodation businesses in Greece. Its mobile and web apps will be launched for the lodging owners in December, while the traveller bookings website will open in Spring, so that the whole Discoveroom concept will be operational for the summer season of 2014. Discoveroom has raised a seed investment round of €100,000 with the Jeremie Openfund II.
Incrediblues' (www.incrediblue.com) motto is "real boats from real people." In a classic disintermediation business model, travelers can directly connect to boat owners, review boat profiles with real photos and book online in a simple and secure way. Incrediblue is free for travellers, while boat owners just pay a service fee per booking. Incrediblue currently offers 500+ boats in more than 100 locations, mostly around the Mediterranean, and it recently welcomed small boats to navigate cities like Amsterdam and Berlin. Their aim is to create the largest fleet of unique and verified boats, as well as dominate the Mediterranean and Adriatic Destinations. Incrediblue has raised a seed investment round of €100,000 with the Jeremie Openfund II.
Offerial (www.offerial.com) is a hospitality technology startup helping hotels improve sales, marketing, customer satisfaction and loyalty through personalisation. In order to achieve this, Offerial analyses each visitor's behaviour on the hotel's website and booking engine, and producing personalised booking options to each visitor based on this data. The outcome is that visitors see attractive, personalised offers and they can book directly with the hotel, instead of booking on any other high sales channel that have high cost for the hotel. Offerial is the first startup to enter the Quest Group IQbility incubator, raised a seed investment round of €60,000 from Piraeus Jeremy Tech Catalyst Fund complemented by €30,000 worth of services and infrastructure from the IQbility incubator.
Next week, read about four travel search engines which are changing the way tourists search for their perfect holiday destination.