A Q&A with Rocketrip co-founder and CEO Daniel Ruch. The New York City-based startup, which offers a corporate travel management platform designed to save money and streamline the process for employees, moved into private beta in late November. It was founded earlier this year.
SUB: Please describe Rocketrip and your primary innovation.
Ruch: Rocketrip is the first corporate travel management solution to focus on the carrot instead of the stick. Rather than concerning ourselves with policy enforcement, as nearly every corporate travel management platform does, Rocketrip encourages compliance. We set smart budgets in real-time based on real market data that are always fair and always provide optionality. Getting the budget right for any given flight, hotel, or car rental purchase in real-time for every location is remarkably complicated; this is what we have been almost entirely focused on. Rewarding positive behavior, such as booking below budget and booking farther in advance of departure date, helps companies reduce their existing T&E spend by 15-to-20 percent.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Ruch: Any company whose interest is embracing a culture of both cost consciousness and autonomy is our target market. More specifically though, we find that companies between 75-to-750 employees tend to be the right fit for the product we offer in market today.
Ruch: Nobody to date has built a commercial platform that solves for the level of complexity we are dealing with. Handling real-time construction of smart budgets based on a synthesis of company policy manipulated by real-time data is a big part of the equation. It’s not about which ‘options’ are in policy versus ‘out of policy,’ we leave that up to the traveler. It’s about how much should that given trip cost. The ‘should’ in here is very tricky to solve for and we’re focused almost entirely on that. Benchmark data isn’t good enough—it isn’t customized for a given company at a given time, and even less so for a given employee. Then we layered on a robust reporting and analytics suite, plus an integrated reward and incentive platform. Nobody else is doing anything similar.
SUB: You just announced your beta launch. Is it an open beta?
Ruch: No. We’re maniacally focused on getting user experience right. So, while we want more users, we want to make sure that we service them properly and understand their needs. Interested companies can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for a demo and to discuss participation.
SUB: Why was this the right time to move into beta?
Ruch: We spent the last six months building our beta product. We finished building what we thought was minimally viable, so we moved into beta. Now we are iterating quickly as customer feedback is coming in.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Ruch: Yes, we have raised $575,000 in Seed funding from Genacast Ventures and various Angels
Ruch: Existing corporate travel solutions are no longer relevant to the way we shop for travel today. They’re designed to streamline process, but they end up creating more friction than they’re worth. We see this clear-as-day in the definitions of non-compliance and ‘rogue’ travelers. The fact that these terms exist period elucidates a major issue that has never been addressed in any meaningful way.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Ruch: We spent months on aggressive diligence as part of the Genacast incubation process. This involved dozens and dozens of interviews with potential customers that helped validate what we wanted to build in the first place.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Ruch: Came up with it in my sleep. Thought it was a fun yet professional name; and the domain was available.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Ruch: Finding customers willing to take a flier on something new is always a challenge. That challenge increases significantly at the enterprise B2B level. Thankfully, we’ve been lucky here and have several companies already saving money with us.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Ruch: We have a pretty good idea of how we can start generating revenue, and there are multiple avenues. Rocketrip will charge a flat subscription fee or share of savings depending on customer size and usage volume.
SUB: What are your goals for Rocketrip over the next year or so?
Ruch: By a wide margin what matters most is that our customers use Rocketrip and enjoy using the platform. This goes for both employees and the individuals that administrate our product inside their company.
Rocketrip – www.rocketrip.com