In May 2014 Matt Fox and Dan Harrison successfully launched last minute rental provider, Snaptrip, into the UK’s self-catering holiday market. They wanted to create a trusted marketplace for people to discover the best last minute cottage holiday deals in the UK.
Where did you meet and when did you decide to create a start-up together?
Matt: “I’d actually 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 and I met in a coffee shop in Chiswick! I was desperate to get Snaptrip off the ground but can’t write code to save my life! I needed a technical co-founder and just trawled LinkedIn. I introduced myself to Dan, asked him for a coffee and thankfully he saw sense in my mad plan and came onboard!”
Dan: “I was running my own start-up and had recently left HomeAway, where I’d been for eight years. I implemented all my learnings and expertise from these experiences into Snaptrip and joined Matt to lead the tech.”
What does your company do?
Matt: “We provide exclusive discounts on last-minute self-catered holidays in the UK, sometimes up to 60%.”
Dan: “We’re proud to say that since 2014 we have helped more than 100,000 people find a last minute rental and saved them a combined total of almost £1 million in accommodation costs.”
What makes Snaptrip different?
Dan: “We realised that there were plenty of last minute sites for hotels such as: Last Minute, Travel Zoo, Secret Escapes and Late Rooms but nothing like that for the holiday rental sector. With lots of unsold inventory in the sector, we decided to create a platform 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, property rentals as opposed to hotels, then we would be onto something different and exciting.”
What has been the biggest challenge along the way and how have you overcome this?
Matt: “Getting a strong platform of relevance in Google has been the biggest challenge. Anyone can launch a business and just spend cash on online marketing, we needed to get a presence in Google’s rankings and get that traffic that was searching for deal-led self catered holidays. And as travel is the most competitive sector on Google it isn’t easy! There’s so many different layers to achieving a decent presence on Google (technical structure, content, volume of content etc etc) and it’s involved most of the team!”
Dan: “The constant ups and downs of running a young business. You really do experience the best highs when things are going really well but there is always another challenge waiting just round the corner. The good thing is that it never allows you to become complacent and I think it sharpens the mind and your focus which is a valuable skill to have.”
What has been your proudest moment to date?
Matt: “Ninety-three per cent of startups fail in their first three years, so to be one of the seven per cent that has not only gone on longer than that but is still achieving fantastic levels of growth and increased efficiency is something very rare and sometimes I wish we had time to take stock and reflect on that! As a single moment, probably getting that final signature on the investment round documents in December 2015….that felt amazing!”
Dan: “I would have to agree with Matt on this! Closing the 2015 investment round was a very proud moment. Not just because it enabled us to continue the journey but because it showed that we had a real business in the eyes of our very serious and well respected VC’s. It really felt like validation for our idea and all our hard work.
“That and winning “The Next Big Thing in Travel” at the World Travel Market in London!”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting out?
Dan: “You might think you have the greatest idea in the world but if you don’t take the time to properly validate it, then chances are it won’t succeed. You need to have the intelligence and conviction to find out whether the solution you’ve decided upon is actually the best to fix the problem you’ve initially seen. Take into consideration: is it a genuine problem for others, how many people are affected by the problem and is your solution actually better than anything else out there already?”
Matt: “Only then should you make the decision to either go for it or walk away! Execution counts for almost everything and this is really stage one of the plan. It will teach all budding entrepreneurs that the idea becomes a very small part of the success of a start-up. Even the very best ideas executed badly will simply not become a viable, sizeable business. It’s a cliché but think of all those people on Dragon’s Den who you initially think have a great idea but haven’t thought about the execution of the business or product in question.”