By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
TripChamp was one of six Austin companies to pitch before the panel of judges that included Morton Paulsen, Consul General for Norway, Casey Smith, Austin Economic Development’s International Program Manager; Gary Hoover and Donovan Miller, international project manager for IC2 at Austin Technology Incubator. Hoover and Paulsen said that while competition was close among the six companies, all judges were unanimous on TripChamp.
“They have a real product that saves money and is capturing the attention of the industry… and did a very clear presentation of what they’re up to,” Hoover said. “They appear to have a wonderful team and advisors from the industry. The travel industry is complex, there are a lot of players and to have that level of people say ‘Hey this is a great idea,’ really says something.”
Daniel Senyard, COO of TripChamp—whose parent company is LF Tech in London–pitched in front of the small group at Capital Factory Wednesday morning. The company created a database that helps find the best rates for flights.
For TripChamp most of these options apply only to business and first class flights and are only available to business customers who use a lot of flying miles. They also employ artificial intelligence so TripChamp offers rates and options designed specifically for the user. Ultimately the company may use the technologies on other verticals Senyard said.
Growth Institute, a company that provides executive education programs from internationally known thought leaders in easily digestible formats was chosen as the alternate if TripChamp founders couldn’t make the conference. Growth Institute makes courses available for individuals as well as whole companies in both English and Spanish.
Other companies that pitched included Own Local, which converts newspaper print ads into digital ad campaigns; Curb, which sells a device that attaches to a breaker box and tracks energy usage; You Roam, a company that allows consumers to travel internationally and use their own phone numbers to send and receive calls without paying international rates; and Pen Pal Schools, a peer-to-peer global education program covering language, culture, politics and other topics.
All companies were required to have traction in Europe. Two members of TripChamp’s team will travel to Oslo next week, all expenses paid, to pitch against top ranking companies from London and Scandinavia.
Senyard said the company has just been launching with very early beta customers in recent months but has received a large investment from “a large strategic investor in the travel industry.” Senyard said he was “surprised” to have won, but then on second thought added “Well it’s a good audience of international people and what I do with TripChamp caters exactly to what this whole contest is about…which is moving people around. So I knew I had a good target audience.”