Luggage storage start-up Stasher has won Hotel Jumpstart, an accelerator programme for innovative travel tech start-ups led by Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) and Hotels.com.
Jacob Wedderburn-Day and Anthony Collias, the entrepreneurs behind Stasher (formerly CityStasher) won $10,000 in Hotels.com travel vouchers at the final demonstration day held in London on July 4.
The event saw the five finalists, chosen from 230 applicants within the travel tech industry, present their business models to a panel of senior Expedia Group executives and guest judges from the media and start-up sector.
Judges included Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia Partner Solutions; Johan Svanstrom, president, Hotels.com brand; Ian Knox, vice president, global product, EAN brand; Thierry Bedos, chief technology officer, Hotels.com brand; Louis Warner, chief operating officer, Founders Factory, and Charles Armstrong, founder and chief executive of The Trampery.
Over the past six months, the Hotel Jumpstart finalists have been mentored by experts from Hotels.com and EAN and attended advisory workshops covering everything from product development and machine learning to strategy, sales and marketing.
As part of the finalists’ package, the five chosen startups were given access to EAN’s full suite of accommodation via its content-rich APIs, a privilege that enabled them to apply these hugely powerful tools to their own businesses.
The finalists were also given a space in Traveltech Lab, a London-based incubator for early-stage technology businesses created by The Trampery, throughout the duration of the programme.
Stasher was chosen as the winner ahead of fellow finalist, DayBreakHotels, an online marketplace selling hotel rooms, apartments and luxury ancillary services on a modular basis; Shoot My Travel, a digital marketplace connecting travellers with local professional photographers around the world; Live2Leave, an app for travellers to record travel experiences and see recommendations from a community of selected friends, and TripTech, a direct marketing engine to improve the relevance, security and scale of direct marketing in the travel sector.
DayBreakHotels was awarded an ‘on-the-spot’ runner-up prize of 12 months of free drop-in access to the Trampery’s Traveltech Lab.
Stasher, founded in 2016, provides secure and cost-effective space for tourists to leave luggage for short periods of time.
Dubbed ‘the future of luggage storage’, the company enlists a variety of small businesses and large hotel chains (known as StashPoints) to store luggage.
During the six-month Hotel Jumpstart programme, Stasher worked with specialist mentors to develop its business strategy and launch a new, mobile optimised website translated into five languages.
It enjoyed a 300% growth in revenue over six months, expanding the number of StashPoints from 150 in 20 cities (mostly in the UK) to 500 in more than 60 cities in new locations around the world.
Gorin said: “Our roots as Expedia Group began as a start-up, and Hotel Jumpstart was a way for us to give back and stay connected to the thriving start-up community that exists today. Stasher has a great service that we think travellers will love.
“At Expedia Group, we pride ourselves on our passion to test new technologies and create new products and services that make the travel experience better for our customers and lodging partners. Our mission through Hotel Jumpstart was to empower start-ups and support entrepreneurs working on the next disruptive technologies that will fuel the travel industry. Stasher and all the Hotel Jumpstart finalists are great examples of the creative and innovative ideas that are driving the current travel tech boom, and I can’t wait to see their progress.”
Jacob Wedderburn-Day, co-founder of Stasher, added: “Participating in Hotel Jumpstart has been an unforgettable experience. All of the finalists were brilliant and we are extremely proud and lucky to have been chosen as the winner.
“Hotel Jumpstart has given us the opportunity to develop and expand our ideas and technology for the future of our business and we can’t wait to implement all of that knowledge to drive our product forward. The guidance we’ve received from our mentors at EAN and Hotels.com has been invaluable and we know they will always be there to support us.”