Startup of the Week: GoEuro (Wired UK)


CEO Naren Shaam


Berlin-based GoEuro is a
travel platform that allows people to search for, compare and book
plane, train, bus, rail and car hire options for travelling across
Europe. It was set up by 31-year-old Naren Shaam and provides an
alternative to visiting different sites for each of the different
modes of transport thanks to partnerships with more than 500
different transport companies. Wired.co.uk caught up with
Shaam.

HQ: Berlin
Launched: 2012 (company), May 2013
(product)
Staff: 50
Funding: Battery Ventures, Hasso Plattner
Ventures and Lakestar

What problem do you solve?

Most of our travel needs go way beyond reaching key airports, so
we allow our users to search for their final destination, rather
than simply the closest airport. By including rail and bus travel
in the results, we also provide them with the ability to see all
travel options for the entire journey in a single view, and to be
able to book their tickets easily.

Rail and bus travel in Europe is growing much faster than air
travel, but are vastly underrepresented in the online travel space.
They also lack a consistent technology platform for their data,
unlike the airline industry where everything is standardised. So we
normalise all of their data and then show the results in the same
way you would for air travel. This puts train and bus offerings in
the same online shop window that airlines have enjoyed for more
than 15 years.


How do you plan to make money?

We make money through the commercial relationships we have with
our travel partners

There seem to be a lot of startups in this space, what
makes yours different?


There are other companies doing what is termed “multi-mode”
travel, but where we know we are different is that we have crafted
a company with the right balance between building great technology
and something that our business partners see the value in. Only by
delivering revenue to our partners can we say that we’re doing
something that works for our users.

Where did you get the idea for the
business?


After university I took the obligatory couple of months off and
travelled around Europe. I knew the places I wanted to go, and many
of them were off the beaten path. I couldn’t believe just how hard
it was to plan my travel. Air was relatively easy, but to get
information to on how to take buses and trains to my final
destination was really difficult! I knew then that there had to be
a better way — so I started to make plans for GoEuro.

What’s the biggest misconception about your
business?


That online travel has already been “done”. While it was one of
the first sectors to migrate online, the underlying technology is
largely based on clunky airline systems. We can use new technology
to provide our rail and bus partners with huge exposure to
customers that they would otherwise struggle to reach on their
own.

Can you express in some tangible terms how the business
has developed?


We’ve gone from a team of five in February 2013 to around 50 in
less than 18 months. We started in one country (Germany) and now
are in the UK, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg,
and we will add two others this summer.

Do you have any advice for dealing with potential
investors?


Honesty and humility. They see so many business plans and meet so
many potential entrepreneurs that they are adept at being able to
see through any weaknesses and bravado.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given
you?


Hope is never a strategy. Build out a strong strategy and move
fast.

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Source: wired.co.uk
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