We’ve had a great week on our startup accelerator Huckletree Alpha. Our London cohort kicked off with a killer pitch practice hosted by top VC Sasha Astafveya from Felix Capital, and our Huckletree D2 Alphas attended an invaluable workshop on raising Angel Capital with Julian Seymour from HBAN.
GOODBYE, TRAVEL ANXIETY
Q1) How did you come up with your brand, and what makes it different to similar companies?
We love to travel, but rolling our suitcases over cobblestones and into tiny cafes around Europe on Sundays before our flight was turning travel into a hassle rather than relaxation. We thought there had to be an affordable way to get luggage from our Airbnbs in the morning to the airport in the evening. There’s enough stress in this life, and travelling should eliminate it, not add to it. That’s why we started Sherpa.
No competitor today effectively combines our offering: luggage delivery to/from transport hubs of both carry-on and checked luggage at an affordable price. We believe our service can open up a new segment of time-strapped, travel-stressed customers looking for low-cost options for everyone. The business people fitting in an extra meeting without the sweat of carrying luggage on the tube (yes, London’s summer is coming!) or travellers leaving in the evening and not wanting to plan around all their “stuff”.
Q2) What about Huckletree Alpha are you looking forward to the most?
The office – just kidding. The startups and founders in Alpha and generally at Huckletree. We are humbled by all the inspiring entrepreneurs around us. Equally, the calibre of the sessions and workshops and the people we’re meeting are incredible. Lauren, managing the programme, has been particularly helpful and open, connecting us to everyone she can who is equally as passionate about travel.
The doors Huckletree is already opening has been overwhelming and we are excited about what is yet to come. The focus on diversity at Huckletree is a great advantage. Even the interview before being accepted onto the programme was a breath of fresh air with Gaby and the team showing interest in us as an early stage business, but also being very welcoming. All business meetings should strive to be as open-minded and encouraging as what Huckletree promotes!
Q3) As a female founder, are there any specific challenges that you’ve faced and overcome?
First, the decision to actually take the plunge into entrepreneurship. You can think of a million reasons why not to, to go and settle at a comfortable corporate job. But we love working together and believe we have found a real pain point and that we can transform the way people travel as today’s service and sharing economy grows.
Second, summoning the confidence needed to actually start up. There are always naysayers, and it’s easy to have a single conversation that gets you down about what you’re doing and makes you wonder why you even took the risk to start up in the first place. But continuous persistence is what you really need to spend your energy on. And of course, we are always there to lift up each other when any doubt creeps in.
Q4) Our values at Huckletree are ‘Stay Curious and Be Renegade’, how do these apply to you?
Even before we started developing our product, we drafted an early founders’ agreement that was centered around the importance of empowering each other to be curious and to learn. That includes the day to day stuff – how to improve SEO, or build an Instagram presence — but also more generally learning what it takes to start a business.
Since starting Sherpa, we’ve met a number of incredible male founders who talk about the need to ‘puff out your chest’ and have bravado, and we’ve equally heard from female founders about ‘acting like a man’ – even using a deeper voice in meetings.
But we believe that we can revolutionize travel without acting like anyone else, rather, by leveraging our unique strengths and styles together to build something that can eliminate travel anxiety everywhere.
Q5) Who is your dream dinner guest and why?
The stats around female-founded startups are abysmal – and we get it. We already know some of the challenges women face in starting up and getting funded. That’s why we love connecting with other female-founded startups; it’s empowering to be able to swap stories and share advice, and inspiring to understand what it took to get ahead.
Therefore, particularly given their recent unicorn status (and a business model we love), Jenn Hymann and Jenny Fleiss would be up on our list of dream dinner guests.
Inspired by Sherpa? Learn know more about our in-house startup accelerator #HuckletreeAlpha now.