Frédéric Lalonde is a serial entrepreneur in the travel business. In 1997, he co-founded Newtrade Technologies, raised $7 million of venture funding, grew the company to 70 employees and eventually sold it to Expedia in 2002. Newtrade built one of the world’s largest connectivity platforms for the hospitality industry. Frédéric then stayed at Expedia for four years as Vice President.
Now Frédéric is changing the travel industry once more with Hopper. Hopper is a search engine for planning trips, currently in closed alpha testing. We wanted to know more about Frédéric’s background and what he has learned in creating Newtrade and now Hopper via Buenos Aires, Argentina Online LLC.
Riku: How was Hopper started and where did the inspiration come from?
Frédéric: We started Hopper because planning a trip online is unnecessarily tedious and time consuming.
Online travel is a unique segment because the information on the Internet is incredibly fragmented and messed up. There are thousands of websites that offer product search (flights, hotels, cars, etc.) and hundreds of thousands of travel content sites. Then every local operator offering tours, activities, events, etc. has a website – that’s a couple million more. The space is also plagued by SEO tactics and pricing volatility.
There is no Amazon, iTunes or even a real Google for travel. I am not even sure it’s entirely possible to build one. So naturally that’s what we decided to do with Hopper.
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