During today’s roundtable, we worked with four entrepreneurs.
First, Bob Sacco from El Dorado Hills, California, and David Wolkin, pitchedQuickAirLink.com, a visual search engine for air travel that directs travelers to the airline sites for actual bookings. In an intensely crowded market, QuickAirLink aims to differentiate itself by handing over most of the complexity of handling customer service to the airlines and offering them a steep discount in customer acquisition charges that they currently pay to sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Kayak.
QuickAirLink presents itself as an easy to use site and places itself well over Kayak in terms of usability. I have looked at the interface and do not find it easy to use at all. It is missing the most important element of usability – price comparison – putting Kayak way above it in terms of search value. QuickAirLink expects the traveler to do the price comparison by hand, by visiting various sites. I just don’t see why that is a compelling value proposition.
We also discussed customer acquisition models, and I found Bob’s comments about white-labeling their solution to other sites reasonable if, indeed, he can pull it off.
Finally, there are assumptions in this company that airlines are operationally equipped to integrate with QuickAirLink’s backend data needs, which are yet to be validated.
While Kayak’s head-to-head competitive scenario with Google does open up flanks of vulnerability, I am not convinced that QuickAirLink has thought through its business fully as yet. There are a lot of open questions still to be figured out.
Next, Krassimir Kostadinov from Luxembourg, pitched UniversalOwner.com, a software-as-a-service solution for portfolio risk management for financial institutions. The company is very early stage and competitive positioning, segmentation, TAM, pricing, go-to-market – all aspects are still open. The founder has solid experience in the domain of financial risk but will need to learn the mechanics of how to build a business.
Then Riyaad Seecharan from Miami, Florida, pitched Ayumma, an interesting concept of creating a marketing platform for building mobile and social apps and then creating ongoing engagement with the consumer through that app. For example, a wine merchant could create a mobile wine store app and then send invitations to wine tastings and other special promotions through the app.
Riyaad had some competitors outlined, but in terms of his go-to-market, a much more thought through segmentation exercise will need to be conducted. For instance, if he goes after the mobile store segment, then he will run up against DYI e-commerce storefront vendors like Moonfruit who offer mobile and social stores.
Finally, Nagaraja Gundappa from Bangalore, India, pitched ACE – Akshaya Centre of Excellence, a project management training concept. In India, there is a significant need for training project managers, and Nagaraja has specific experience in this domain. However, his proposed pricing structure of $1,000 for a 1-day session with unlimited attendees seems low-balling the value proposition. I also felt that the competitive analysis was inadequate. There are many other players offering project management training in India. Lastly, the scalability questions are considerable. There are numerous strategic gaps in the business plan of ACE that need to be plugged before the company launches.
You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here. As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables on:
Thursday, March 8, 8 a.m. PST: Register Here.
Monday, March 12, 2012, 8 a.m. PST: Register Here.
Thursday, March 15, 9 a.m. PST: Register Here.
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