006 – John Matson of Voyager HQ – Where Travel Begins

Travel innovation community building with Voyager HQ…

John Matson, ‎Digital Director for Voyager HQ (a club for travel innovators which connects travel startup founders, investors, and corporations), and Co-Director of Startup Grind New York – (bio), joins Pavan Bahl and Samantha Shankman at the MouthMedia Studio at Voyager HQ.

A pilot, helping companies grow, and a dent in innovation

Matson discusses his background as a growth strategist being involved with startups, and current role helping companies grow as the Digital Director, with a focus on marketing. Voyager is a “pilot” to demonstrate necessity and impact of a structured community and space for travel innovation, powered largely by the family office of Fareportal’s Sam Jain [Episode 001]. Finding that travel startups need immense capital or a unique set of dynamic partnerships, how B-to-C really is B-to-B-to-C, providing this resource to these kind of companies, and why it turned into more of a community approach and an open ecosystem. How Voyager is not just Sam Jain’s accelerator, but Sam Jain making a dent in innovation. Growing more nearly 375 digital members and 40 members in the space since August, 2016. How the space was so hard to navigate. And an American Airlines integration for startups as a first major initiative, from a roundtable.

A clubhouse mentality, digital first, and an open source incubator

Programming, using experiences for in/out tenants, being a digital community first, having a clubhouse mentality, and creating roundtables. A monthly breakfast series involving Bootstrapper Breakfasts for up-to-seed stage companies, and Travel Founders Breakfasts for companies that raised or earned at least $1 Million. Another roundtable with Amadeus, one of the larger GDS’s.   Being like an open source incubator, bringing to the table as much as taking away, the give and don’t take approach, the hot trend of “experience” and Airbnb launching trips, the hard-to-crack nut of authentic regional experiences, and how to scale that. Competition of Airbnb vs. startups, because Airbnb is hitting at time of conversion and a web of hosts, they have the inventory. HITLIST as an example of something that builds on top of something that exists, i.e. a new way of packaging trips. “Off the Beaten Path” personal questions cover a sibling mentorship that resonated, a non-profit at 9 years old, Sweden, a sabbatical and making friends in Quebec City, and making an impact on the lives of other people.


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