Startup Q&A: Matt Fox & Dan Harrison, Co-Founders, Snaptrip
SnapTrip has carved out a reputation as the ‘lastminute dotcom’ of the UK self-catering holiday industry. Founders Matt Fox (pictured left) and Dan Harrison momentarily put their growth plans to one side to take AGENT’s startup questionnaire.
In May 2014 Matt Fox and Dan Harrison launched Snaptrip into the UK’s self-catering holiday market—not only as a ‘last-minute dotcom’ for holidaymakers seeking short-notice vacations, but also as a rental platform for property owners plagued by ‘seasonal vacancy’ headaches.
The engine of Snaptrip is its slick and responsive website, in which properties are organised into categories that are inspirational as well as useful, such as Bank Holiday, Beach, Popular Destinations, Pet-Friendly, to name a few. Registered users can not only browse and interactively filter by price in each category or the geographical area of choice, but also book and avail of special deals.
The two men launched Snaptrip using £35,000 from the venture capital group Forward Partners, and began the all important work of developing partnerships throughout the UK self-catering holiday sector. At this point in time, the website is a one-stop shop where the browser can choose from more than 40,000 self-catering properties.
With savings of up to 50 percent on vacations on the table for the holidaymaker, coupled with the reduction in administrative and logistical headaches of rental for the property owner, it’s little surprise that Snaptrip has featured in specialist business media as well as the more mainstream pages of The Sunday Times and The Independent, and attracted positive attention from investors.
Having already expanded beyond the UK into Ireland, Snaptrip remains on an upward trajectory, with ongoing website enhancements and the continued growth of their property network.
At this busy time for the co-founders, AGENT was delighted when Matt and Dan both agreed to answer our questions about their business, so we gladly created some additional elbow room on the AGENT Startup Hotseat.
1. Very simply, what does your company do?
Matt: We provide exclusive discounts on last-minute self-catered holidays in the UK.
2. What was the ‘Eureka!’ moment?
Dan: Realising that like hotels, there is a lot of unsold inventory in the holiday rental sector, but unlike hotels there was no platform like Last Minute, Travel Zoo, Secret Escapes, Late Rooms, for providers of these properties to create compelling last-minute discounts to get them sold. We knew as long as there were was a consumer market for these sort of late deals, that is, property rentals as opposed to hotels, we would be on to something.
3. What were you doing before starting?
Matt: I’d just exited another start up in the same sector but as a junior member of the founding team. I wanted to see if I had what it takes to be a CEO and do it for myself.
Dan: I’d recently left HomeAway, where I’d been for eight years, and was running my own startup. I rolled up the learnings and expertise of that into Snaptrip and joined Matt to lead the tech.
4. How are you funded?
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting their own company?
Dan: No matter how great you think your idea is, take the time to properly validate it. There is a skill to validation. You need to have the intelligence and conviction to find out whether the problem you’ve seen, and the solution you’ve decided is best to fix it, is a proper problem for others, how big that problem is, are they unhappy with current solutions, is your solution actually better, etc etc. That is where the decision is made to go for it or walk away; not when you think you’ve come up with the best new idea! This is really stage one of a proper execution plan—and it will teach all budding entrepreneurs that execution counts for almost everything, so the idea becomes a very small part of the success of a startup. The best ideas executed badly will simply not become a viable, sizeable business.