A professional mariner, a seasoned entrepreneur and a senior designer plan to change the way consumers plan travel.
Portland-based TripGrid is starting to make noise on the Portland startup scene, notching a win at a recent pitch competition for the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and a beta product release expected in the coming weeks. As part of the OEN win, the company secured a spot on the main stage to pitch investors at this year’s Angel Oregon competition in April.
TripGrid’s platform offers a one-stop site for travel planning.
“The entire goal is to simplify the travel planning process,” said co-founder Jake Hoskins, who is a self-described travel junky as well as professional boat captain and dynamic positioning officer. “When you are planning travel you have 42 tabs open and the process is exhausting. We are trying to solve those tabs and problems and give you one place to plan travel from start to finish.”
TripGrid is essentially an online workspace that can be accessed by multiple people. It includes mapping, itinerary management and paths to booking activities, flights and lodging.
In addition to Hoskins, the founding team includes Joe Stevens, who sold his previous startup Solvport in 2008 and is co-owner of software reseller Acuity and Jake Horn, an entrepreneur and designer currently working at ad agency R/GA.
Discussion of the product first started in 2014. A beta version is expected to be ready for testing at the end of this month. People interested in participating in the closed beta test can sign up on the company’s website.
The team is aiming for a July 1 public launch.
So far, the company is self-funded by Stevens and Hoskins, but the team just opened a seed round.
There is competition in the $650 billion global online travel market from the likes of Trip Advisor, Expedia and Kayak, but Stevens and Hoskins insist their product will fill in gaps left by existing players.
The two cite TripGrid’s focus on design and ease-of-use as the key to winning.
“Because of our third co-founder Jake (Horn), we have built design first,” Hoskins said. “(It’s the user interface and user experience) and the simplicity of solving a complex problem. It’s crazy the details that go in and the (user experience) being so key. A 13-year-old should be able to plan a trip from start to finish.”
Source: Portland Business Journal, Malia Spencer
Photo: TripGrid founders, from left to right: Joe Stevens, Jake Hoskins and Jake Horn (TripGrid)