Now, let’s get to the entrepreneur pitches.
First, Sanchit Gurg from Noida, India, pitched TravelTriangle.com, a marketplace for travel agencies offering personalized tour packages for travelers seeking such help. The company already has engaged about 75 travel agencies and some 900 customers. They have started transacting, generating multiple bids for each RFP and taking a commission off closed deals. Reviews, ratings and other core marketplace functions are part of the offering. Sanchit and his team of six have validated the concept already.
I like the idea a lot, especially because traveling in India and South Asia and South East Asia is still quite complicated. Local knowledge and contacts are key, and the logistics of travel can be very complex. Having personalized, reliable service from a travel agent, along with local guides, etc., are attractive value propositions.
The market size, however, is relatively small: 5% of $500M or $25M is the estimated Total Available Market for the foreseeable future. Frankly, that doesn’t bother me, since I tend to like small, niche businesses with good, solid execution, which Sanchit’s company is demonstrating. Clearly, a multi-million dollar, profitable business can be built here, and I plan to be a user of the service. In fact, I’d like to design a trip to visit Bandhavgarh National Forest in Madhya Pradesh to see tigers, as well as visit the Khajuraho Temple, ideally during the famous dance festival that is held there. Maybe one of the travel agents on TravelTriangle can help put this together for me.
For the time being, the company is seeing maximum interest from travelers who want to visit Rajasthan, Kerala and Sri Lanka.
Next, Andrew Jaffa from Jacksonville, Florida, pitched BabbleTAB, a social media marketing service that generates relevant content for the Facebook pages of small businesses like car dealerships, restaurants, retail, etc.
Andrew wants to offer a tablet-based console on location that would capture video and images of customers and post them to the businesses’ Facebook pages. The business model is a subscription service with a small fee per loaded image.
We brainstormed today about the adoption barriers and whether consumers would take the trouble to be photographed or recorded. Andrew’s preliminary research says that they would if offered the right incentive. In a car dealership, for example, he thinks a $250 discount would be a substantial enough incentive. I am listening to the use cases but would like to see a statistically significant validation exercise done on the idea.
We also discussed Andrew’s proposed tiered pricing model, which I felt was too complicated. A simple flat pricing would be more appropriate. Andrew agreed and is planning to change the model.
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