One of the things we like to do at Forward Partners is invest in companies just as they are starting up. That’s what we did with SnapTrip which was literally one man, an idea and a single sheet of Excel when we invested. We loved the man and the idea (the Excel not so much…) and have been excited to help him bring it to life – something which happened with the release of their MVP a couple of weeks back.
The man is Matt Fox and his profile is a great fit for what we’re looking for:
- He has a great idea (more details below)
- He has deep knowledge of his sector
- He has startup experience having co-founded his previous company PureHolidayHomes
- He has great personal qualities – he’s passionate, driven, smart, charismatic, humble and tenacious with a clear vision of what he wants to build and the leadership skills required to build it
The idea is to help holiday makers find last minute holidays in self catered cottages. SnapTrip’s opportunity is to own the late availability/discounted end of the market where the competition is limited. This contrasts sharply with the peak bookings end of the market where AirBnB, HouseTrip, HomeAway and a host of smaller players are competing fiercely. (It’s worth noting that most of these companies focus on apartments in metro areas whereas SnapTrip works with rural cottages.)
We’re attracted to this market for two reasons. 1) Nobody is yet focused on helping homeowners to fill out the c40% of their inventory which remains unsold. 2) There is nowhere consumers can go which aggregates all the late availability properties in one place and guarantees the best prices. Neither homeowners or consumers are well served by the piecemeal offerings from existing players whose core business is in the peak periods.
Excitingly, if successful, SnapTrip will grow the market by matching demand for late availability deals with discounted supply. They’ve started with an MVP focused on the Lake District and will soon expand to the rest of the UK and then Europe. This is a big opportunity.
Turning to the business and how we’ve worked together, the first thing to say is that Matt’s customer development work was encouraging. He had tens of conversations with consumers, homeowners and agencies which validated his core assumptions about unsold inventory, willingness to discount, willingness to book late and appetite for discounts and gave him a detailed picture of exactly what he should do to make the business fly straight out of the traps. Initial tests on CPAs and conversion rates have also been very promising.
Secondly, Matt was a sole founder when he joined us. He’s a commercial and operations guy by background and with our assistance in customer development, development, design and marketing he has been able to move extremely rapidly. Now that he is out of stealth mode with a live site we are helping him find a co-founder and build his team out.
Hopefully that gives you a sense of why SnapTrip is exciting and of how Forward Partners works with companies from the earliest stages.