Hitlist update – March Madness edition

When you’re building something that is truly new, it’s kind of impossible to measure success. However good your metrics are, they could always be better. There’s no competitor to measure yourself against. I often wonder: how the hell are we really doing?

That’s when it’s nice to get a message from one of the most successful travel founders of the last twenty years saying he thinks we’re ‘the most creative product team in the category right now.’

Which is great, but now we get to face the real music and see what the market thinks we’re worth. You know what that means.

I’ve spent the last month ‘taking the pulse’ of the market and we’re happy to have added a few strategic investors to the cap table: Gary Waldman, founder of Sidestep (sold to Kayak), and exec/board at XOJet and JetSuite; and Katrin Buckenmaier, founder of Travador (currently kicking ass in Europe) and formerly VP of Strategy & Acquisitions for Warner Music International. If you want to help out:
 
  • Introductions: if you know people who you really think we should be talking to, please let me know.
UPDATES
  • We won ‘Demolish Day’, a pitch competition at SXSW judged by the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association and surprise guest Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup. (for non-techies: both these guys are kind of a big deal). Prize includes a booth at CES next year in Vegas, which is a long way off but I am taking applications for booth bros now. HUGE thanks to Adam Berk for the opportunity to pitch.
  • Last month’s focus was people. First, there was so much amazing advice about forming boards that I compiled a lot of it into a blog post so others can benefit from it as well (as always, please share if you think it’s useful, and thanks Mattermark for featuring it in Mattermark Daily last Thursday). We’re in the final stages of putting ours together and I’ll announce it soon.
  • Hitlist was highlighted for its excellent mobile design in presentations by TripAdvisor and HotelTonight at ITB Berlin and the DC Travel Show, respectively. We love and use their apps so it’s an honor to see them tracking us as well.
  • We’ve added Chris Piazza to the team on the operations/finance side of things. Chris was a cofounder of WeHostels, a pioneer in the mobile travel space which sold to Student Universe in 2014.
  • About a week ago we released our ‘Trips’ feature, which shows you pre-filtered lists of flights around specific themes, like Coachella (‘for lovers of Indie music and crop tops’), or European getaways (7-10 day trips to Europe leaving Friday/Saturday/Sunday to minimize the # of days off you have to take). A lot of thought and testing has gone into it so far so please do check it out and if you have any feedback send it over. Julia also made a mesmerizing video to illustrate its power.

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? Because pretty much everything in this 3 year old McKinsey study still rings true: ‘The travel sector has reached the next phase in its evolution, and some creative destruction is necessary. Many solutions already exist, but the sector’s myopic focus on costs rather than returns their implementation.’ We believe that by truly focusing on the customer, we can activate more travel more efficiently and raise returns across the board (measured both in positive experiences for people + ROI for providers).

GIF OF THE MONTH: this is an image of Obama’s head on Beyonce’s body dancing to ‘Single Ladies’ on a rotating pizza disco floor with fireworks in the background, because human creativity knows no bounds.
obama beyonce pizza
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