More often than not when you need a quick vacation to recharge your batteries, it’s too late to plan. With the many logistical challenges in pulling off a last second UK getaway, there’s one place to visit that can help – Snaptrip. The service offers the best last minute discounts on cottage, lodge, and apartment stays, letting you customize and tailor your getaway to your needs along the way. Already servicing over 300,000 satisfied customers and offering discounts as high as 60%, Snaptrip ensures that a trip to Scotland, Wales or a breathtaking National Park is only a few clicks away.
London TechWatch chatted with cofounders Matt Fox and Dan Harrison about the genesis of the company, its future plans, and its most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Existing investor Bestport Ventures, who previously backed the company in 2015, led the new funding round, which also included Snaptrip.com’s other institutional shareholder Forward Partners. Several current and new Angel investors participated in the round, including Matthew Witt, former Chief Operating Officer of Active Hotels (acquired by Booking.com). £2.1 million was raised.
Tell us about your product or service.
Snaptrip.com provides the largest range of last minute discounted UK holiday rentals. It sources the best UK cottage, apartment and lodge deals and brings them together in a one stop marketplace, with discounts up to 60%.
Snaptrip.com specialises in making impulsive UK breaks possible by providing its members with exclusive discounts from the UK’s most trusted cottage companies.
Launched in April 2014, the company has saved almost 300,000 people (and over 20,000 dogs – the majority of cottages are pet-friendly) millions on accommodation costs. To date the business and management team have won numerous awards and been fuelled by a total of £4.2m in equity funding.
What inspired you to start the company?
We wanted to see if we could test ourselves at the highest level. We’ve both involved in small companies and startups before but it was the inspiration of the challenge that led to Snaptrip being in existence. We had a good idea there was a strong market fit for what we wanted to build, the rest was just having the confidence in ourselves to deliver. It’s not for everyone, but it was always going to be a big scary challenge, and that inspired us in a way.
How is it different?
With lots of unsold inventory in the sector, we decided to create a platform for providers of these properties to create compelling last-minute discounts to get them sold. We knew as long as there were was a consumer market for these sort of late deals, property rentals as opposed to hotels, then we would be onto something different and exciting.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We’re targeting all those looking to take a spontaneous last minute break and those who are just disorganized and need to see lots of inventory with great discounts. Our holidaymakers are all looking to book a self catered property, typically because they have pets or young children so hotels won’t work for them.
What’s your business model?
We take a commission on each booking we do.
How are you separating yourself in a crowded market?
Our brand and niche is focused on the last minute holidaymaker and our pitch to owners and managers of holiday homes is that we will do our best to sell off what they haven’t sold. If we can continue to achieve these goals, we will continue to be very different to other sites out there, who just focus on scale of inventory, not accuracy of information or discounts for example.
What was the funding process like?
It was hellish, it always is for founders and anyone who says anything different is lying! Closing a funding round is one of the greatest satisfactions but that’s mainly because it’s such a physical and emotional release from what would have been months of pitching and processes and hearing a lot of ‘no’s’. Even when you have all the cash committed, it’s a skill and exercise in itself going through the legal process of closing it and getting it banked so while we’re happy it’s all done, it’s a hard thing to have to go through.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Getting a strong platform of relevance in Google has been the biggest challenge. Anyone can launch a business and just spend cash on online marketing, we needed to get a presence in Google’s rankings and get that traffic that was searching for deal led self-catered holidays. As travel is the most competitive sector on Google it isn’t easy! There’s so many different layers to achieving a decent presence on Google (technical structure, content, volume of content etc etc) and it’s involved most of the team!
The constant ups and downs of running a young business. You really do experience the best highs when things are going really well but there is always another challenge waiting just round the corner. The good thing is that it never allows you to become complacent and I think it sharpens the mind and your focus which is a valuable skill to have.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
When you’re in your fourth trading year you’re starting to see real scale, you also have a lot of trackable data about your business. So that will either look good and appeal to investors or not. On day one you’re pitching a vision of what you want to create. By year four it’s about presenting what you are doing and some investors will like what you’ve done and where you’re headed and some won’t be able to find a fit in the sorts of investments they like to make. We have fantastic year on year scale, a tangible path to further growth and profitability, a very strong and sector experienced team and a market that is growing in notoriety so there was a lot to get our investors excited.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Maintain our progress and current scaling metrics of the business and take on the few hires we need to help take Snaptrip to the next stage. This will involve the evaluation of new marketing channels and the professionalisation of our approach to core product progression.”
What advice can you offer companies in London that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Focus on the consumer and the problem you’re solving and you can’t go wrong. You must be building something for a reason, there must be something you’ve discovered that needs solving or improving so find out who the consumers are and keep building for them. The longer you build something to your ‘best guess’ the less chance it has of getting bigger and better.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’d like to cement our position in our core market and then in the future we can evaluate expansion opportunities.
What’s your favorite tourist destination in London?
Matt: I love history and eating so I’d say Borough Market, it feels like old London, but there’s lots to taste there as well!
Dan: Kew Gardens. It’s a bit of peace and quiet but there’s also loads to keep the kids entertained as well.