Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.
The following is an interview we recently had with Pedro Anderson, Founder and COO of Winding Tree Limited.
1. What’s the history of Winding Tree? How and where did you begin?
PA: Winding Tree was borne out of the direct experience we had with building a startup in the centralized travel distribution space. Two of our co-founders had gone through ycombinator, had good funding and partners but were held back artificially by the old legacy systems that sat in the middle of the travel industry. Not only did the intermediaries charge high fees which hurt the end traveler but their lack of incentive to innovate meant that the new solutions we'd build would only ever be as good as the legacy systems they were built on, and that had to change. We had ideas of how to do this, but we had the challenge of ensuring that it be completely monopoly proof or we'd inevitably fall prey to the same issues plaguing the industry today. How to create an open market without giving too much power to a central authority? Enter the blockchain. We came to blockchain not from a crypto/fundraising perspective so much as from a critical need for the removal of the need for trust. For the first time ever, blockchain allows us to create this open source platform that could completely monopoly proof, completely permissionless.
2. Who are the founders and key team members?
PA: As mentioned, 2 of our founders (Maksim Izmaylov and Jakub Vysoky) are both developers coming from the travel technology space, Augusto Lemble is also a developer but his background is in blockchain architecture he is a frequent contributor to blockchain projects. I come from a business background in Event Technology, social entrepreneurship in hospitality and crypto investing.
Maksim Izmaylov, CEO
Jakub Vysoky, CTO
Pedro Anderson, COO
Augusto Lemble, Blockchain Architect
3. What problem are you solving?
PA: Sourcing inventory has always been a bottleneck to any innovation around travel bookings, we're removing the barriers to entry which will open the floodgates of innovation in travel. In the process rent-extracting fees are eliminated as well so we get to tackle double marginalization too.
4. What is your solution to this problem?
PA: A b2b marketplace for travel inventory. Suppliers, hotels, and airlines, for example, put their flights and rooms on the platform and any point sale (e.g. travel agents, travel websites, developers) can access that inventory, sell it and pay the supplier directly through Winding Tree because Winding Tree is a non-profit there is no fee paid to Winding Tree. No gatekeepers for what travel startups to work with or not, entrepreneurs and existing companies can use the platform to create new tools, new ways of booking travel or simply create a better travel experience.
5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?
PA: Travel is a 7 trillion, Expedia and Priceline are the biggest spenders of google ads in the world, and this industry is extremely centralized (92% of all non-direct hotel bookings in the US are made through 2 companies Expedia or Priceline, in airline distribution 2 companies have a combined market share of 99% globally). All the while, travel booking is arguably 10-15 years behind technologically. What we're doing is opening the door for innovators to compete, there is a huge opportunity here.
6. What’s the future of your industry?
Prediction #1: With open access to inventory, there will be a lot more personalization, new tools for booking and a lot more competition in the space.
Prediction #2: Travel suppliers will play a much greater role in travel technology and the future of their industry.
Prediction #3: Market leaders will be determined by product and service excellence rather than politicking and unfair advantage.