We’re really excited to announce our latest investment, Mindtrip, and preview the coming release of its beta product. There is so much to say that it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s like I should build an itinerary for this post! ✈️💺
Is everyone you know taking a big trip or going on some crazy, off-the-grid adventure? The pandemic changed people’s relationship to travel. And while the category is experiencing a post-pandemic boom, there is an underlying, bigger attitudinal shift: prioritizing travel experiences has become more important to younger demographics, regardless of affluence. That means new opportunities and a generation of travelers who want to do travel differently.
Until now, planning a trip meant toggling among a bunch of sites and apps to research destinations, logistics, activities, reservations, and availability. Plus a lot of information isn’t online or well organized. What we all need is a single place for both trip research and the actual planning/reservations — like what travel agents used to do before the Internet.
Enter Large Language Models. This foundational technology has taken such a quantum leap in capability that we can now literally solve problems that we couldn’t last year.
It’s easy to see how generative AI can transform a huge category like travel. Even back in 2021, travel was already Google’s largest vertical, representing 12% of its $200B. That’s $24B for those of you doing the math. But it’s actually a really hard technical problem.
That’s where Mindtrip comes in. Andy Moss and Trey Matteson – two founders we backed at their previous company, Roadster –saw this potential. Based on ChatGPT’s great leap forward late last year, they started riffing on how to apply its new capabilities to travel.
That’s when they envisioned their latest venture, Mindtrip: bringing the ease of generative AI to both the fun and hard parts of trip planning.
On the frontier of new capabilities, even in a traditional industry like travel, you need a team willing to dig in and figure out things that have never been done before. That’s exactly what Andy and Trey did at Roadster, creating a better product that upended the historically sleepy category of auto dealerships and changed the way they do business. By creating an innovative user experience that removed friction and let customers shop the way they’d always wanted to, they generated a staggeringly high NPS, building a great company and culture and a profitable (yes, profitable) business.
Their small, tight-knit team also demonstrated incredible grit. When COVID hit, their customers shut down. Frankly, that could have been the end of Roadster. Instead, the team rolled out a new program of touchless car sales for dealers, offering the first 90 days free to help the industry respond to the crisis. Most stayed on as paying customers – maybe the best example of turning lemons into lemonade (while operating win-win) that I’ve seen in my career.
At Mindtrip, they’re committed to building an incredible team and upending yet another category (maybe without a global health crisis this time). They’re also doing it in an unusual way, with 12 co-founders. This large founding team has let them bring in really talented senior people like Garrick Toubassi, former VP of Engineering at Gmail, right from the start.
We’re incredibly excited to get the band back together and lead Mindtrip’s Seed round. A huge audience of people needs this product. Consumers need it. Travel agents need it. Corporate travel needs it. And no team is better situated to solve the technical and industry challenges *and* deliver an extraordinary new experience to users around the world.
You’re not trippin’. Mindtrip is now for real. Stay tuned for the beta release by the end of this year!