Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to Become a multimillion-dollar business

In the fall of 2007, T.J. Clark sat with three of his former colleagues from for the analysis of business opportunities in the travel industry. One jumped out at him. "Those last few miles of the trip way behind the times," he said. "We do not know why no one will experience modern city car category."

Far in the Internet era, the city car and limo service still works pretty much the same way they have in the age of Donkey Kong. If you are a regular customer of the business, you can have the service to go to the airport and back, and you know the driver as you would a barber or dentist. But in developing relationships outside of your home based ad hoc process. Involves marking lead from a friend or colleague, dealing with pieces of paper with phone numbers and names scrawled first, then get a suspicious noise on the other end of the cold call you. Felt more like finding a bookie than planning the logistics Services business.

There is no national or even regional brands in this category - even to this day, the company no longer captured as much as 1 percent of the city-car industry, estimated at $ 1.3 billion in revenue in 2012, according to research firm IBISWorld - and almost no online ordering. Prices tend to be higher than a taxi service. And the quality of spacecraft fluctuated surprisingly luxurious for unbearable.

Including former Notre Dame swimmer and then the Chicago lawyer, Clark moved to San Francisco to join the Hotwire team led by Karl Peterson's college friend, then stayed on when IAC bought the company in 2003. Four years in his corporate career, he was ready for another roller coaster ride startup.

In early 2008, he and his team bought the URL They set to develop a network of providers that are approved by the strict standards of the company in exchange for inclusion on the site. They traveled extensively, attending the convention, visiting with the owners and take hundreds of cars to prove the quality of its cars.

Their technology team created software that will automatically aggregate price of each provider in their database like Travel demanded by the consumer. The feedback feature ensures that performance is not acceptable with instant consequences. Since its launch in early 2008, has grown from four employees to 55, revenues rose to over $ 6,000,000 in the first two years of business.

There are now more than 2.5 million registered users. Many leisure travel booking - anything from wine tours for prom night - and rates average in that category is about $ 500, so a big chunk of revenue. Meanwhile, half of the Fortune 500 companies have at least 50 registered users.

"We made three big bets," says Clark. "We bet on the access of both leisure and business travel to the city-car market there, and we were betting people moving taxi car town All we need to have one of these paid off .. So far, all of them. '

That does not even include a larger potential market of business travelers who use rental cars to replace In most cities, the cost of booking a car ending comparable rent one - without having to pay for parking and gas. "There is also something good about showing a meeting with city car, contrary to the understanding which park," says Clark. "Less stress."

The number of potential customers who are affected by will grow exponentially this month when more airlines and hotel chain to add links to the websites of their booking confirmation page. "We think 2012 a year of private cars," says Clark. "It is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry, and we are reaping the benefits of the brand .."