To start your business venture with realistic expectation is quite challenging. Like most startup businesses, this one was created out of personal need. It all started when my co-founder realized he would not be able to use a flight ticket due to unpredictable work commitments. Full of misplaced hope, he ended up changing the outbound date two times, until he eventually gave up. None of his friends wanted the ticket and there wasn’t a scam-free marketplace he could sell it on. He saw the need for a trustworthy service which salvages costly travel tickets and gives people the chance to fly when all other options dry up.
And so SpareFare.net was born. SpareFare connects people who have bought flights, holiday packages or hotel rooms but can no longer use them, with people seeking discounted travel options. By transferring their booked non-refundable reservations to SpareFare buyers, sellers are able to partially or fully recover the money they paid for the trips, while buyers get a true discount of up to 50-60% by not paying the current price of the bookings. We offer fraud protection to both buyers and sellers and dramatically reduce the risk of transferring flights, hotel rooms and holidays to strangers by acting as an intermediary.
How did we start planning our Business?
1. Find out if someone wants to buy what you are selling
First, we needed to figure out if there was a demand for our services. Since SpareFare is a marketplace, we had to evaluate both the supply and the demand side. Our supply side is the travelers selling their own flights and hotel reservations. We saw that there we hundreds of listings on general selling sides like eBay or Gumtree and their many local language equivalents, so we knew that there were many people looking to sell their flights and hotel bookings. Our demand side is flexible travelers, looking for travel bargains. We knew that the travel sector is one of the fastest-growing industries – so we were in a growing market, and everybody likes a cheaper travel alternative!
2. Find out the market size
The second thing we did is try to estimate the size of the market. This was very tricky because secondary travel marketplaces did not really exist and we were first in our market! So there are no ready reports or market statistics available. We had to do our own due diligence.
3. Evaluate competitors. How are you better?
The third thing we did was to look around for competitors and see what they are currently doing. Then ask yourself if you can do it better – not by 5%, but by 50%. If you can’t do it really much better than the existing solutions, quit now. Our competitive advantage with SpareFare was significant – there was no secondary travel marketplace for specifically flights, hotel rooms and holidays and on top of our specialized nice, we are offering secure exchanges. This sets us apart from general listing sites like eBay.
Steps we took before we started
Sketched out our idea of what the website should look like and do and obtained quotes from IT firms about the cost. We are based in London but outsource everything to developers in Bulgaria, where you can find a pool of very talented IT professionals with the added benefit of excellent value for money.
Figured out the revenue model – how much can you realistically make? Tip: you’d be happy if you make half of that for the first few years.
Started to look for ways to advertise and reach buyers. Tried to estimate how much it would cost us.
Assembled a team with diverse skills and knowledge, who were keen about the idea and were looking for long-term payoff rather than just a salary to pay the bills.
Some of the challenges we met
Things took off much slower at the beginning than what we were expecting. Make sure you have extra stores of enthusiasm for your idea because you’ll need them! Also, I was prepared for the long hours and the constant challenges we faced, but I was not ready for the emotional rollercoaster and how it affected my productivity levels. Having your own business is hard, lovely and you are not always going to enjoy the process.
1. No matter how good your idea is, you will get lots of “no’s”
I believe SpareFare is a brilliant idea. So many of our clients agree as well. There is a genuine need for such a service in the market and it creates win-win situations for both sellers and buyers. Naturally, I thought that everyone else will love it, too! Reality check – I receive rejections on a daily basis. I just don’t take it personally and remind myself that’s just part of the game.
2. It always takes longer than you think
There are always going to be unseen factors that you just can’t control. Don’t feel like you have somehow failed, just keep going.
3. Remember to enjoy life
When your company is in its infancy, you have to be prepared to dedicate all of your time and energy to it. Your startup is your life. A startup is nothing like an established company, so you need to be prepared to give up time with your family, friends, and others, as this is a 24×7 job. But you have to enjoy it! Otherwise, what’s the point?
4. Sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed
Again, do not take rejections, delays or setbacks personally! There will be a lot of mistakes you make, they are an important part of the learning process.
5. Celebrate little victories
That’s all you are going to have in the beginning, anyway! A business is a grind. It’s a lot of the same thing over and over again, even if you focus on innovating, and, especially in the beginning, the little victories will be few and far between. It is good to be ambitious and to have grand plans, but if you wait for those to come by before you pat yourself on the back, you are not going to enjoy the process.