Singapore #startup Backstreet Academy took home the first prize, a US$450,000 grant, after completing Booking.com’s accelerator. Booking.com Booster is a three-week workshop and mentorship program to support promising startups in sustainable tourism.
Backstreet Academy, among the first batch of the program, lets you book unique activities hosted by locals, like fishing with Indonesian fishermen or going on a street food tour in Hanoi. Its aim is to connect locals to the tourism industry so that they receive direct economic benefits.
What makes Backstreet Academy suited for this task, says CEO Jamon Mok, is its tech which caters to people who don’t speak English and don’t have access to a smartphone with data plan. The app sends hosts an SMS in their local language when a booking comes in. They can accept or reject the booking by using the dial pad. Hosts also receive reminders and other information about the booking this way.
The startup collects a 15-13 percent commission from each transaction, depending on group size.
Headquartered in Amsterdam, global travel aggregator Booking.com is part of NASDAQ-listed Priceline Group. It launched Booking.com Booster earlier this year, as part of a corporate social responsibility program called Booking.com Cares.
It says it received nearly 700 applications for its first batch. Backstreet Academy beat nine other finalists.
Six other participants were awarded grants:
All participants will receive ongoing mentorship and support from Booking.com, the company said in today’s release.
Update June 28, 12:30 pm: Added more information on Backstreet Academy’s features and business model.
Converted from Euro and rounded. Rate: US$1 = 0.89 Euro.