A Q&A with inBed.me co-founder and CEO Diego Saez-Gil. The New York City-based company was founded last year and raised $1.2 million in Seed funding back in February. Investors include Ventech (Paris), Quotidian Ventures (New York), CAP Ventures (Buenos Aires), and founders such as Fabrice Grinda (OLX, Zingy), Dave Lerner (Columbia Venture Labs, Venture Studio), Roeland Boonstoppel (Amber Ventures), Alec Oxenford (OLX, DeRemate), Javier Tenessa (eDreams, ODIGEO), and Justin Siegel (JSmart, JNJ Mobile).
SUB: Please describe what inBed.me is, and the value proposition you offer to travelers and to the travel market.
Saez-Gil: inBed.me is the first social booking platform mainly focused on hostels. Our site not only allows travelers to book their beds, but also to see who else will be staying at each hostel during their travel dates. Travelers can then connect with each other to share tips or plan activities together.
SUB: What are your target markets?
Saez-Gil: We are targeting young independent travelers and backpackers who are looking for a social travel experience. We are initially focusing on travelers from the U.S. going to South America or Europe.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Saez-Gil: We have competition in different categories: first, the traditional booking sites—Hostels.com, Booking.com, etc.; secondly, sites offering new alternatives to traditional accommodations—Airbnb, CouchSurfing, etc.; and finally, new startups who are focused on the social aspect of travel connecting travelers to each other—Tripping, Trippy. We are actually working with some of them to explore synergies.
SUB: What differentiates inBed.me from the competition?
Saez-Gil: The biggest differentiation is that we are in the intersection between social community and accommodation booking platform. We are rethinking online travel commerce for the social web from scratch. We are a transactional marketplace, but with the social web in the DNA.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Saez-Gil: The company was founded at Startup Weekend in New York last June, where we took second place in the competition. After Startup Weekend, we enlisted a crack team, continued to develop the product and finally went public in November of 2011.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for inBed.me? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Saez-Gil: All of us have backpacked extensively and the biggest problem we—and most backpackers—have run into when booking a hostel is that you never know what you are going to get. We have all stayed in hostels that were not very social or where people were very clicky or just not the type of people we want to hang out with. The “aha” moment came when we realized that the magic of the social web could help us solve this problem.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Saez-Gil: The biggest obstacles since we have started have probably been bootstrapping the company, selling people on our innovative idea, and the time that was taken away from the company to raise funds.
SUB: You’ve raised $1.2 million in Seed funding this year. Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
Saez-Gil: We have a very big vision for the company and to execute it fast we will need additional capital. However we don’t plan to fundraise again until we accomplish certain internal goals.
SUB: What are your goals for inBed.me over the next year or so?
InBed.me – www.inbed.me