Greetings, beautiful people.
Exciting news: Jeff Clarke, the Chairman of the Board at Orbitz, has joined our angel round. Some of his other investments include AngelList (currently valued ~$150m), Sidecar (just got ~$10m from USV), and Mozio (a very grateful hat tip to David Litwak for introducing us). We’re tremendously excited to have him on board.
Focus for March: PRODUCT
- Within the next two weeks, subject to the whims of the App Store review process, we’ll roll out an overhauled onboarding experience which should make it easier for users to understand our core value proposition & motivate them to share. Speaking of which: one click tweet. Share on Facebook. Or just direct your friends to hitlistapp.com.
- User acquisition is always a priority, and press helps with this – If you know anyone looking to cover new tech, cool mobile apps, travel, etc, please let me know. I clean up well, I promise.
Speaking of which: some fun events if you happen to be in NY/Boston.
- Today, NYC: Th March 13th, 6:30pm. Pitching to an awesome panel of VCs at Ultra Light Startups (use code ‘supporter992’ for 50% off)and competing with some people on this list for sweet prizes. Any support in person or on the Twitterverse would be much appreciated!
- NYC: Tu March 18th, 6:30pm. I’ll be interviewing the incredible Chris Schroeder & discussing his book ‘Startup Rising: the Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East’ (free)
- Boston: Th March 20th, 6:30pm. Facilitating a Travel 2.0 talk with Adam Medros, (VP Product, TripAdvisor) and Giorgos Zacharia (CTO, KAYAK) (free).
– The team finally had a chance to sit down together in Zagreb and nail down the exact specs for our new version, which we plan to launch in May. We also got some pictures which showcase just how scarily good looking the Hitlist team is.
– We’re happy to announce two additions to the team: Tihana Ana Reljic and Perla Frgacic have joined as part-time social media managers. The internet breathes a sigh of relief at the knowledge that I will no longer be trying in vain to post witty updates myself. There have been some real gems on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Please follow/like/share!
– Gillian, Luka, and Tomislav made it to Berlin for ITB, the main travel conference. Europe remains our largest market by far and we were able to move some crucial conversations forward.
– We’re in the process of establishing how well we’re able to drive conversion – i.e. turn people who are browsing for flights into people who book flights. This remains our core value proposition: that we’ll be better than the existing flight search process, and thus will be able to drive more travel (especially incremental booking = trips people wouldn’t have taken otherwise). But we’ve also begun exploring some additional/alternative business models in 1. market research and 2. becoming an online travel agency ourselves. If you’ve got any expertise in those areas, I’d love to ask you some questions.
Why are we doing this?
The more I get to know this industry, the more I keep bumping against the same assumptions: 1. You can’t make any money off of flights 2. The market for impulsive, last-minute travel is tiny.
These are assumptions, not fact, and imply that the market is perfectly efficient right now. That’s just so far from the truth. Look at the way we shop for shoes or rent apartments these days compared to five years ago. Inefficient, painful consumer experiences will improve, in spite of the people that say 1. You can’t make any money if you offer free shipping both ways (tell that to Zappos!) 2. The market for people who will pay to stay in a stranger’s apartment is tiny (if you say so, said AirBnb). We’re not doing this to build something cool we want to use (though that is a pleasant side effect), we’re doing this because this market will be disrupted sooner or later and we want to be the ones that do it.
As ever, thanks to you all for coming along on this ride. We know we couldn’t do it without you.
Our last night in Zagreb: Tomislav, Tihana, Perla, Sasa, me, and Luka