Shipitwise's decision to focus on niche markets, and integrate with Travelport may turn out to be masterstroke."
You have just days before the latest fundraising round on Funderbeam closes for Estonian start-up Shipitwise.
Shipitwise has sharpened its trajectory, and partnered with booking giant Travelport, having integrated its unique service offering to travel agents. Travelport is a billion-dollar travel commerce platform where travel providers, travel agencies, corporations and developers can search, share, buy and sell travel.
Shipitwise is a start-up based in Estonia. Shipitwise addresses the challenge faced by travellers who need to move specialist equipment, for example, cycling enthusiasts, or items that often commercial passenger airlines might immediately classify as just 'special' luggage. Airlines only fly you from the airport to another airport, and generally, see your journey as one that starts from home to your final destination, such as your hotel. Shipitwise aims to make this process more convenient and cost effective for travellers overall.
Shipitwise's decision to focus on niche markets, and integrate with Travelport may turn out to be masterstroke. It gives Shipitwise credibility and access to the trillion-dollar travel market.
Travellers will finally be able to add an option to move luggage with a specialist company, rather than the airline or an alliance network like One World or Star Alliance. This is the world where individualised services are becoming better targeted and enhancing a customer's experience, and Travelport, (and eventually Saber and Amadeus) like airlines Air Baltic, Nordica, Lufthansa and Tallinn Airport can enhance a passenger's experience using Shipitwise. It is rare to come across a start-up engaged and committed to solving a common problem for travellers. This is Shipitwise' strategic and durable competitive advantage that serves as a point of difference among its competitors in the travel and logistics space.
Shipitwise is very well supported by the start-up community and is attracting the right advisors. Shipitwise joined the start up accelerator Start Up Wise Guys and gained access to invaluable contacts and business intelligence. It is helped by having on its board Jaan Tallinn, the founder of Skype. There was no specific mention of blockchain in Shipitwise's latest investment proposal (I wrote about this possibility here). However, in this article, blockchain is thought of as the 'connector' enabling a passenger to travel from place-to-place - all without queues or needing to show your passport or frequent flyer cards, and transporting baggage straight to your hotel room, which is what Shipitwise promises its customers.
Accenture Consulting highlighted ways that travel companies need to consider the favourable impact of the blockchain. Coordinating travel is a complex process that connects passengers, their luggage, airlines, airports, flight protocols, transportation, hotels, booking information, and passenger documentation like passports and ticketing. There is no doubt that blockchain can help manage the multiple validation and control points involved in travel, including those travel providers relying on and reconciling quality and real-time information to move growing numbers of travellers, all with individual travel itineraries, travel preferences and travel requirements.
Shipitwise has retained TMP Riedel Advisors to provide strategic advisory services and to manage the company's pending Series A capital raise which was delayed until the end of 2017. Shipitwise is growing within Estonia, the Baltic region and beyond, and blockchain maybe an inevitable part of its future trajectory.
Disclosure: the author is an investor in Shipitwise.