Roame is like Google Flights for award travel; it lets users search for flights based on credit card points/miles.
CEO and co-founder Tim Qin outlines Roame’s mission to help simplify redemptions for the 100 million people who have credit cards with points ready to use.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Frequent travelers know the tricks of redeeming points/miles for award flights, but the average person does not. Even the most seasoned traveler spends hours searching for airline routes to redeem their points.
Roame is Google Flights for award travel. We let users search for flights based on credit card points/miles. And like Google, we distill information from every airline into one familiar search engine.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
We have built a system that takes public data, organizes it and offers it up for free for fellow travelers. Roame lets you search over 180 airlines (with more to come!) for the best flight redemption using points/miles in seconds.
We provide the core search engine free of charge and plan to pursue affiliate marketing for travel-related products.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
Strengths: We are an extremely lean team with an obsession for our product. Our company focuses primarily on user experiences and outcomes. Our proprietary algorithm delivers award flight results in mere seconds.
Weaknesses: We are a small startup with limited brand recognition.
Opportunities: Travel is a large market with more than 100 million credit card holders with under-utilized points. We want to simplify credit card redemptions for the average person.
Threats: Execution is key to our success in a competitive market with rapidly changing technology.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Our mission at Roame is to simplify credit card redemptions for the average person.
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Over the last decade, the points and miles community has grown explosively. Now more than 100 million people have credit cards with points ready to use and an entire ecosystem has developed to teach others how to redeem their points to maximize value. However, even with such a supportive community, redeeming points can be extremely frustrating.
We all want to redeem that elusive first-class ticket on the cheap using our points, but searching the individual websites of multiple airlines is tedious. Most people just give up. The current technology services out there are slow, hidden behind paywalls and inaccurate.
Roame aims to help the points and miles community with a free, real-time, and easy-to-use search engine.
So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
First, we are focused on building our core award travel search engine and delighting our users. Our growth strategy is product-led, focusing on user outcomes and high retention.
In our first month, we powered over 50,000 searches. We have since grown tremendously just from viral word of mouth and earned media. In the future we may pursue partnership opportunities.
Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
Initially, we were looking to solve our own problem of finding award flight redemptions, but after building Roame, we felt like we could help the broader points and miles community by offering a service.
We have interviewed and spoken with hundreds of users with an extremely positive reception to Roame. Our target market is the more than hundred million people who have unused points and miles.
How and when will you make money?
We provide the core search engine for free and plan to pursue affiliate marketing for travel-related products.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
The founding team has a complementary background. Our CEO has a background in technology and finance, both as an investor and operator. He has over a decade of experience executing mergers and acquisitions and data-driven strategies within travel, technology and financial services.
Our CTO has a background in distributed systems at scale and artificial intelligence. He has led teams at top tech firms to scale out mission critical components.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
We are very much committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. We are keenly aware of the differences in access and opportunities, especially when it comes to financial services. Our whole business is about accessibility – we realized that the point/miles system caters to the wealthy. By giving everyone free access to data, we level that playing field.
What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
At Roame, we are user-obsessed, so the toughest challenge has been choosing between user-requested features and focusing on our planned product roadmap.
Generally, travel startups face a tough time making an impact – so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
We are solving an extremely tedious and painful task for consumers that could take hours and simplifying the process down to a simple click to search. The tremendous reception we have received now is just scratching the surface.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
Roame will have scaled to 10 times our current size and continue to serve the points and miles community. Flights are just part of the equation for Roame. It took emerging technology for us to be the fastest in our field. With our technology, we look forward to tackling other data-intensive parts of consumer travel.
What is your endgame (going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)?
We want to continue to be the lean company we are now – building a great product to delight our users. We aim to make deal-hunting fun, and we are open to all potential opportunities and partners in the future.
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