Q&A: TripStax CEO Jack Ramsey
As TripStax prepares to throw its official launch party at the Science Museum, we check in with its CEO Jack Ramsey
Following your soft launch at the end of March, how much interest has there been from potential customers?
It’s been quite overwhelming. We hosted the welcome party at the ITM Conference in Birmingham at the end of April and it was really important for us to be there, not so much from the point of view of it leading to direct sales discussions but because we were approached by people who we could potentially partner with from a tech point of view, with content that could be integrated into our stack. For example, we had some airlines showing interest. Since then our pipeline has gone insane, not just in the UK. We’ve got deals happening around the globe – in Spain, a fairly large deal in Germany and we have people out in Boston at the moment in discussions with a US customer. A lot of the response to that initial launch came from the UK and the US.
What impact has this had on the company?
Well, it means we’re now looking to ramp up our management team and we’re recruiting for more sales people. Including our offshore development team, we’ve already grown from around 65 to 100 and now we are looking to expand further. We want to ramp up on the commercial side pretty quickly. We’re already interviewing now for a pretty big hitter to work alongside the CTO to help us accelerate some of the tech development and free us up to focus on areas of innovation, for example integrating Microsoft stack and content acquisition. There are two acquisitions imminent but I can’t say any more right now.
Your technology was developed over 25 years by ATPI before being set up as a separate entity. Has there been any concern from prospective TMC clients about your historic relationship with ATPI?
It’s been less of a conversation point than we thought and I think that’s because we’ve done a fantastic job of separating the two. TripStax is an entirely separate entity to ATPI’s TMC business. It operates autonomously and has its own management team, business strategy and Board of directors. ATPI is now purely a customer. While some TMCs have tried to launch technology to sell to the wider market, they’ve kept their name attached – perhaps to give it gravitas or maybe it’s an ego thing – but often that’s a negative. We’ve created a completely new brand that isn’t piggybacking off ATPI because it doesn’t need to. Once you give people that clarity, they have a huge amount of respect for what has been built and the amount of users and bookers, and people know it works. Although we’re a start-up, we were in the unique position of being able to launch with technology that has a proven track record and a global customer base from day one. This makes us a credible and trustworthy partner.
Who is your target market?
The most suitable customers for our technology are small to medium size TMCs, because they would be most attracted to the cost savings and would get the quick wins. We have a unique pricing model because there isn’t another tech eco-system using a subscription model for each module and only charging a single transaction fee, regardless of how many times a booking is processed or how many modules are used. The cost savings to a small or medium-sized TMC could be huge. But at the same time the mega TMCs might also be interested in component parts. We have already had, for example, a global TMC showing interest in our approval system. Although we are aimed mainly at the smaller TMCs, the big guys are always interested if there’s new colourful tech around!
So TMCs don’t have to invest in all TripStax solutions. They can pick and choose?
Yes, the proposition is completely flexible and scalable. TMCs might still be under contract other third-party tech so they might not want all of our modules. When they are ready, they can scale up and add further modules. But once data is flowing through the Core – which consumes, enriches and manages traveller profile, booking and financial data, both within our modules or from elsewhere – it makes sense to add additional modules in order to generate the maximum cost savings.
Based on your own business and on conversations with TMCs, how is the business travel recovery progressing?
During the pandemic there were a lot of people sharing their opinions about if and when business travel would come back. There was a lot of personal marketing going on, with people making predictions about it coming back in 2023 or 2024 or 2026. It seems like we are now already 70%-80% of the way there. The big struggle now is being able to service this growing demand. A lot of people have left the industry and it will be difficult to draw them back in again.
Is TripStax also experiencing that problem as it looks to expand its team?
No. We are a new and exciting brand and with exciting challenges ahead, so we are not finding it difficult. However, it’s not been easy to get to where we are because we’ve taken a bunch of people out of an organisation entrenched in a culture that comes from being in a service-based industry and we’ve put them in a tech business and told them they need to behave differently. It’s not an easy transition but everybody is now positive and energetic and engaged and looking forward to the official launch party!