Travel Impact Lab is a fund + accelerator for startups in the travel industry with an impact focus.
We talk with their Program Manager, Kristina Palovicova about the accelerator’s mission to supporting startups to boost their business and impact, and tips for founders who are planning to apply.
👉 Startups can apply until 17th of April for the cohort starting on May 22nd with 100K funding (see details). The program is hybrid with a duration of 5 months, with two weeks in the beginning and one week in the end in person (in Amsterdam) and the rest online. Learn more at travelimpactlab.com/accelerator
The way we travel matters. When we travel, we do it to explore, expand our horizons culturally, and create meaningful memories. In addition, the travel sector is beneficial in creating jobs and contributes economically to local communities. However, traveling can have a negative climate and social impact. It creates carbon emissions, over-tourism, and poorly paid jobs. And if we don’t do things differently, will it be too late?
We owe it to ourselves and future generations to make traveling sustainable and transparent. Therefore, we must take this opportunity to develop solutions for customers to make sustainable choices of where, when, how, and why they travel. That is our mission.
Travel is here to stay. However, how it is done must change. Innovation does not happen in large organizations. Change usually comes from startups. We support impact-focused startups with capital, knowledge-sharing, and a network of topic experts, giving them access to the ecosystem to accelerate their positive social and environmental impact. This is the path to transforming the industry.
👉 Startups apply via our online application form.
✅ Once they apply, we review applications on an ongoing basis. We select startups based on their impact strategy, team composition, problem-solving and the solution they bring to the market, and business model.
⏰ Applications are open till April 17th. We have a selection day with a committee that selects up to 10 startups to participate in the accelerator starting May 22nd.
We are bullish on environmental solutions focused on electrification, rail, data and consumer behavior, however we still look at all impact driven startups.
We will select up to 10 startups for this cohort and aim to run two cohorts per year.
The program is five months long, with 2 week in-person sessions running full-time in Amsterdam. Then the program runs part-time online for four months. The grand finale is again in-person, in Barcelona for one week, ending with a demo day.
The first cohort took place in 2021 with five startups. Airtrotter is one of our alumni, and they set up pilot-programs with investors in the cohort, including Transavia Airlines. Hi Hi Guide was also part of the 2021 cohort, focusing on the social aspect of meeting a local in a destination.
Here’s my top three tips for potential applicants:
Tell us why you want to positively impact the travel industry and how you want to achieve it. We are entrepreneurs ourselves; we would love to hear from you!
Have an impact-driven vision. We need to see your impact strategy and how you want to contribute to creating a sustainable future of travel.
Do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or doubts. We are here for you, the changemakers of the industry.
From the recent reports we have investigated, the biggest challenge is access to capital. Skift’s State of Travel 2022 states that only about $6 billion annually flows into travel out of approx. $415billion. And less than 1% of capital to travel startups goes to sustainability. Also, many solutions to transfer the industry, including electrification and rail, require higher capital. We aim to increase the % of the inflow towards impact-driven businesses.
We are very grateful for all our expert mentors, such as Claudio Bellinzona, the founder of Musement (that sold to TUI and now COO of TUI Musement), to startup founders from the last cohort. We believe in variety and look for mentors from different areas to expose startups to different expertise, knowledge and insights.
We also have travel VCs onboard as mentors, including Velocity Ventures, Stellar Partners, Thayer Ventures and JetBlue Ventures, to expose startups to them from the start.
For the list of mentors, please visit our website.
Northern Europe has been leading the change with impact-driven investments, although much of the funding comes from the United States.
Also, The Middle East sits at the intersection of green energy and tourism, with immense capital reserves and great ambitions to develop a greener economy and tourism.
I love to travel. My parents were entrepreneurs that started one of the first travel agencies in Slovakia after the USSR, and I grew up around travelers or traveling ourselves. I want future generations to explore the world, learn about other cultures, feel other continents, and broaden their perspectives.
After co-founding, running and selling the startup Secret City Trails, which focused on the social aspect of tourism, I wanted to continue to create a positive impact on the travel industry. With Travel Impact Lab, I get to work with inspiring founders, amazing mentors and partners that have the same mission as us.
👉 Apply for the 5-month Travel Impact Accelerator program (by April 17) at travelimpactlab.com/accelerator
We regret to inform you that we cannot proceed with our Travel Impact accelerator program as planned.
At the very last minute, we were unable to secure hard commitments from our investors. As a result, we cannot meet the threshold minimum of startups for this cohort.
The good thing is we were able to source a fantastic selection of impact-driven travel startups. And we will continue to nurture our relationship with them and the broader ecosystem as we move forward.
In fact, we are set to explore how we can help you achieve your travel impact goals. Whilst initially we set out to do this in an accelerator format, we will explore other formats too. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to me by email to email@example.com.
Thanks for sharing this:) and happy to answer any questions or comments or long discussions about impact and travel and how to solve it. :)
This is really cool, I am an entrepreneur from Kenya. We will definitely be applying for the opportunity.
Hi Peter, great to hear! Looking forward to reading your application.
Thanks for sharing Maria. As a Hospitality and Tourism professional with 30 years experience in the global field with a key focus on Africa and being involved with various start ups in the region. I would be keen to get involved maybe as a mentor in your program or any other way I can support. I am also the chair for AYTIS (African Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge) youthtourismsummit.com. Would be keen to see how we can work together
Hi Barry - would love to have you as a mentor! If you can share your email, I can send you all the information!
Thanks Kristina. I have send you the requested info. Look forward to hearing from you
Can you help me understand the terms of the accelerator?
1. Charged 30K, does that come out of the 100K CLA or it needs to be paid in cash up front?
2. CLA: Is this a loan that would have interest? And need to be re-paid by when? It's a loan for 8% or it's just a loan unless it gets converted to equity, at which point it's worth 8%?
New to this, and it feels like reading a foreign language! Appreciate any clarity.
I hear you, Hilary! This is why I've steered clear of accelerators and continue to bootstrap. Best of luck to you if you move forward applying with YE.
I've just started to seriously consider an accelerator/angel path. I love that Travel Impact Accelerator is clearly targeting companies like mine, but I just don't feel good about the value proposition if it's based on fronting 30K, so I'm unlikely to bother applying.
Such a tough spot to be in though - I have so many ideas for growth and, it's all working bootstrapped, but I want to work faster and bigger!
Hi Hilary, thanks for your interest!
Convertible Loan Agreement is a loan that will transfer to equity for your next investment round (or after 2 years usually). So then it will be worth 8% of your equity. It is to avoid the additional costs for an equity round.
For the 30k for the program, you will receive 100k in cash upfront of the program and then you transfer 30k to the program. So you only pay the 30k after you receive 100k from us (it is a legal mechanism - I know it is not the most efficient way...).
Let me know if you have more questions - happy to help and hope you are applying!