How two techpreneurs' labour of love grew into a disruptive travel player

How two techpreneurs' labour of love grew into a disruptive travel player

What began as a PDF document on a Facebook page detailing the best things to do in Bali has developed over the last decade years to become a transformative player in the travel sector.

If you asked the co-founders of TRAVLR Simon (pictured) and Lani te Hennepe whether they'd be preparing for a $10 million Series B capital raise ten years ago they'd probably laugh you out of the room.

But that's the position the duo is in at the moment.

TRAVLR first emerged as a disruptive player in 2017, connecting travellers with a new way to plan, book, and discover their next travel adventure. Using advanced technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence, the TRAVLR platform automatically curates and offers recommendations based on the type of traveller you are and the trip you want to take.

Following a successful Series A raise in 2017 for $5 million, TRAVLR this week is embarking on a Series B raise in the vicinity of $5-10 million.

TRAVLR's come a long way from its roots as a simple PDF file posted on Facebook called 'The Bali Bible'.

Compiled initially by Lani, the Facebook community rapidly grew into 10,000 strong, inspiring the two to create a website and mobile app for the idea.

Speaking to Business News Australia, Simon says the transformation of the product from a simple list into a comprehensive travel brand was driven by user feedback.

"Our users were sharing all their recommendations and the platform as going viral and everyone started creating lists of the hotels they want to go to," says Simon.

"And then they were like 'alright, now I want to book'. But we didn't have the ability to let people do that."

TRAVLR now has a global focus and it's got the big travel players shaking in their boots.

"We've got a lot of people interested and we are ruffling a few feathers in the industry. People don't like what we're doing because we are merging parts of the travel industry to create this new experience and really flipping the industry on its head," says Simon.

"We're getting in at the dream and planning stage and helping you do that entire experience and getting ownership really early on in the piece."

For the co-founders, getting to this position has been a labour of love.

"We went into it as a labour of love, something we were passionate about, and it turned into a business. We didn't make money for six years until now."

TRAVLR has secured commercial partnerships with Expedia, Agoda Homes, Webbeds, JacTravel, Totalstay, Viator, Garuda Indonesia, Fiji Airways, Emirates, Air New Zealand, ResDiary, GOPRO, Amadeus, and Flexigroup demonstrating just how much of a powerhouse the startup is becoming.

"Our immediate goal is to refine and elevate our user experience while we launch into and establish ourselves in our initial destinations of New Zealand, Fiji & Pacific Islands and throughout Indonesia. From there we've got an ambitious roadmap to roll out into more than 59 destinations over the next 4 years," says Simon.

"We had some amazing investors that came on board and backed us about 12 months ago, and it's been an amazing ride we've gone from 2 full time staff to 96 staff in four locations."

"We've set out the entire time just to make travel better for ourselves, as part of that we kind of hopefully can create the world's best travel platform."

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