Make sure you work with good people

Travel a la Carte a smart travel planner for your trip

Please introduce yourself and your startup Travel a la Carte to our readers!
My name is Kim Najman, CMO and co-founder of Travel a la Carte. Travel a la Carte (TAC) was founded by 3 female entrepreneurs, Ivana Hronova (CEO) and Olga Grillova (COO) and myself, all from the Czech Republic. Our revolutionary fintech solution for the online travel industry, Travel a la Carte is the only all-in-one app that allows travellers to set up their own budget and book tickets, accommodation and events in the same place with one single payment.

In addition, Travel a la Carte provides users with a digital wallet (TACPay), a unique tool which enables users to optimise and organise their finances on the go. Users can:

Make instant payments
Exchange multiple currencies at the best rates
Split the costs
Send money
Top up their credit
Pay by QR codes to local merchants.

Travel a la Carte also houses a machine-learning AI travel assistant called FOXI, which acts as a personal travel agent 24/7, answering questions on the go.
Travelers can create their own personal profile, set up their preferred budget, customise their choices and create a personalised holiday plan without the stress.
The Travel a la Carte app is a unique combination of travel & financial tech that allows travelers to save time before and during their trip – in other words: spend more time exploring than booking!

How did you get the idea to Travel a la Carte?
We’re always on the go and have encountered our fair share of difficulties over the years – losing bookings and tickets, not being able to pay using our cards in foreign countries etc.. The idea came to our CEO and co-founder Ivana initially when she was travelling around Cuba. Ivana and Olga found themselves in Havana, late at night, with no way of securing accommodation or anyone who spoke their language. They walked for hours until they found a hostel at 3am. This experience would have been a lot less stressful had they had a 24/7 travel resource or app available to them.

This is one of the reasons why it was important for us to have our AI assistant FOXI, so our users can have access to real-time advice as and when they need it.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
The most difficult part of any startup is getting your idea into action. We were able to visualise the app, and come up with all of the amazing features we knew would benefit our users but the hardest part was definitely getting it going. We had to overcome lots of obstacles that came our way, from app development to pitching future clients, business partners and investors.
When we hit dead ends, we put our heads together and reevaluated the situation, and approached it from a different angle. Lots of the unique features of the app had never been done before, so the journey seemed bumpier than other startup journeys.

Being sisters and close friends, we already had a strong support system – this definitely helped us with the energy and faith to keep going. We believed it was possible, and if our vision was easy it would’ve been done already – we’ve always kept this in mind from the initial startup stage to now. Who is your target audience?
Our main target audience are millennials – university students, and young professionals. We are currently targeting Europe, China, and now the USA.

30% of solo travelers are under the age of 25. Students represent an opportunity to capture revenue now, and they are also the travelers of tomorrow.

Travel a la Carte travel tripWhat is the USP of your startup?
The main USP is the centralisation – booking and accessing everything for your trip in one place. Travel a la Carte has lots of key features including a smart travel planner which allows its users to book everything (flights, accommodation, and activities) and store all tickets in one place. When booking, users can set preferences from date and time to budget and view a full range of options in real time.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Our typical workday is hectic at the moment, we currently work out of three locations! Our head office based in Prague (where myself and Olga reside and work from). Ivana is in New York, as part of the Czech Accelerator Programme with VentureOut. She’s in the process of setting up a New York office there as of January 2019. We also have a third office in Shanghai, with another team member there handling business development in Asia.

We’re all on different time zones, dealing with different markets – no two days are the same for any of us!

Where do you see yourself and your startup Travel a la Carte in five years?
Our goal is to become a leading online travel agent (OTA), catering not only to university students and millennials, but also the rest of the travel sectors. Whether travelers want to use the app for booking, TACPay, or FOXI, we envisage the app becoming the go-to for all travel needs.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
The first tip is know that the initial plan will never go exactly how you want it to. In our experience, we’ve found you have to be flexible and open minded to reach that goal.

Our second tip is to make sure you work with good people – talented people who you have open communication with, and people you can trust. When you’re working in a startup, you need to surround yourself with likeminded people who have the same vision and mission.

The third tip we would give other startup founders is to network. Go to every event, speak to everyone, and give everyone a chance. Of course, be cautious with how much you tell people about your product and plans, but make sure you show up. A lot of the doors which have opened for us have opened because we showed up to everything, meeting different individuals who were all able to help and advise us in some way.

More information you will find here

Thank you Kim Najman for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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