LAUNCH STAGE: RatePunk is a browser extension that finds the cheapest hotel price
RatePunk compares hotel room rates across major online travel agencies. When users search for a room, the browser extension scans the most popular booking sites and compares prices so users can get the best deal.
The company’s two founders also founded AirGuru, an interactive travel agency and flight search and booking engine. RatePunk, founded in Lithuania in February, has 15 employees and aims to expand its team.
What is your 30 second pitch to investors?
Have you ever overpaid for your hotel? I’m 100% sure it is, just not knowing it. And so do we. We didn’t like that, so we created a free tool to make sure it never happens again. RatePunk is a browser extension that scans all the algorithms of major booking sites and compares hotel prices, showing you the cheapest hotel option. RatePunk saves time and money, the two things people value most these days.
Describe the business and technology aspects.
Headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania, we’ve created a tool that helps travelers save money around the world. RatePunk combines travel and technology to make life easier for travelers and modernize the travel industry.
RatePunk is not only a new product in the travel market, it is an original approach in the field of technology as well. Browser extensions, especially mobile ones, are not yet widely used. However, in our opinion, they are the most convenient format for displaying the lowest hotel rates in seconds. Users install the extension for free and select the desired hotel and dates when booking a hotel. RatePunk appears, showing you the prices from all the major booking sites and where it’s cheapest to book.
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We are constantly adding booking sites where we can compare prices. We are currently up to nine major OTAs. In order to create a price comparison, we had to dig deep into each hotel supplier and find out what their structure is.
Provide a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of your company.
A diverse team. Our employees are multi-skilled and adapt quickly to change, which is vital in a growing startup environment.
Original concept. There are other similar price comparison engines, but most of them are websites. RatePunk is a browser extension that makes the comparison process easier and faster for the user.
Searching for new team members. Qualified candidates are hard to find, even worldwide.
New investments. Backers want to invest in fast-growing products with big ambitions and ideas for the future.
Updates. One day we plan to turn RatePunk into a great travel app.
Social/political/economic changes. Travel is a sector that is highly dependent on global events. Another pandemic or major economic downturn could reduce the need and desire to travel.
What pain points in the journey are you trying to minimize, both from the customer and from the
The travel industry is a major duopoly between Booking and Expedia, and the lack of overlap results in unfair pricing for the customer. By introducing new products to the market, we provide more options for the consumer and a boost for the main brands.
People unknowingly overspend on hotels, and one click can save you hundreds of dollars. That’s a huge gap in the market, and we’re filling it at RatePunk.
So you have a product, now how are you going to get a lot of customers?
To get a lot of users, we need to get as many impressions as possible. We noticed that RatePunk needed an explanation. It is easy to convince someone to install it when it is shown step by step or in other words when the value is highlighted.
We have just reached 18,000 users and we are attracting more users by constantly introducing new features to improve the user experience. Marketing is another component. We work with social media and have also tested micro and macro influencers. For the past month, our main focus has been on media coverage. We were recently featured on Express.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading newspapers.
Tell us about the process you went through to determine the true need for your company and the size of your addressable market.
While working in the travel industry on other projects, we often heard people around us complaining about hotel prices. So the product came about naturally. It can be used by everyone from frequent travelers to once-a-year travelers, making it very flexible and in demand.
How and when will you earn money?
RatePunk is still a funded project. We haven’t found the right business model for us. Each order provider pays a 5% affiliate commission.
But for now, the focus is on getting as many installs as possible. Based on previous experience, when you create value for the user, it is not that difficult to start earning. We hope to do it within one year.
What are the backgrounds and past achievements of the founding team?
The founders are two friends, and this is not their first travel-related business. Nine years ago, they founded an interactive travel agency, flight search and reservation system “AirGuru” in Lithuania. It is expanding into other markets.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion in your business?
We recruit internationally. We’re finding that we’re becoming a telecommuting startup, and more and more of our employees are choosing this option. We also welcome interns at RatePunk: the main requirement is a willingness to learn, and we are ready to teach the rest. Everyone in our office is part of something bigger and they know it.
What has been the hardest part of starting a business so far?
It can easily be about finances. But I’d say it’s a drop in motivation when the installs stop happening. Installations have always been our main focus; there were no other means of success. This was especially noticeable at the very beginning when we were stuck at 500 installs for over a month. It’s frustrating to see a whole team throw themselves into something that doesn’t produce any results.
Travel startups usually have a pretty tough time making an impact, so why should you be one of the lucky ones?
Because we strongly believe in our product and its success. We know the value it brings: we save a lot – we just have to pass it on to the consumer. We listen to user feedback, improve our product accordingly, and have tons of ideas and features that will only add value over time.
What state do you think your startup will be in a year from now?
We hope to reach at least 500,000 installs by then. We will constantly add new reservation sites to the system, which will allow us to guarantee a better price for the user.
I think telecommuting will be a huge part of our office routine and our workforce will grow; RatePunk is a team.
What is your end game? (Going Public, Acquisition, Growth and Staying Private, etc.)
The browser extension we’re working on now is part of a bigger plan. We want to make RatePunk a complete travel app. By improving it and adding various functions, we are getting closer to creating a tool that will help travelers plan their trip from A to Z in the most convenient way.
The endgame would be to turn RatePunk into a Lithuanian unicorn.
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