Posted by: Leila Chreiteh
Posted on 12/8/2021
After a fierce live competition from our five early-stage tech startup finalists, here’s the pitch that won Levantr the title of OutPitch 2.0 Champion:
As the virtual applause faded, we caught up with founder and CEO Jennifer Hong and the OutPitch judges to dig into what this win means for the Levantr team.
Why were you inspired to build Levantr?
I went to an international school for a few years growing up. Most of my friends were ex-pats and diplomats’ kids, so traveling has been a big part of my life since I was young. Because of that, I really believe that seeing new places and meeting people from very different backgrounds makes a person less prejudiced and more intellectually curious. So I wanted to inspire more people to travel farther, explore the unfamiliar and grow from experiences shared with old and new friends.
I’ve organized/planned maybe 50 trips with friends and family and wanted to pull my hair out each time. Planning should be fun. We are the happiest during planning—even more than while traveling—because it’s pure excitement and hope. At Levantr, we want to help and reward people who care about their travel experiences from start to finish, which first means freeing them from endless spreadsheets.
“All of the judges really liked the fact that Levantr’s product has a social hook. Planning a trip is inherently a group activity. Inviting new members to the platform isn’t just a growth hack but a necessary product attribute, which we believe will lead to low user-acquisition costs over time.
We also like that there were many obvious business models that could get spun out of the business. For example, Levantr could develop into an OTA, a media business, or a lead-generation business for touring activities, just to name a few.
In addition to the scalability of Levantr, we agreed that Jen had the appropriate growth background to execute on the vision and build a successful business.”
– Ali Hamed, Coventure and Crossbeam VC
Levantr, in its current form, is a productivity tool for travel coordination. As such, we get a behind-the-scenes look at our users’ travel plans—their dream flights, hotels, excursions, eateries, and so on—and key insights into how they’re making their travel decisions, allowing us to a powerful personalization engine for travelers.
We’re essentially creating a new kind of decentralized, demand-driven marketplace for travelers with personalized deals and inter-user inspiration. Looking forward, we believe Levantr will become the ultimate marketing channel and marketplace for all types of travel providers and complementary businesses, such as hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, influencers, ancillary services, the hospitality industry, and even OTAs. We’re thrilled to kick this journey off with our partners at Shanti Global Hospitality, which includes 30+ hotels and travel brands, and the upcoming pilot marketplace featuring international hotel partners Nira Caledonia, Shanti Maurice, and more!
At Outlander, we believe strong founders are the primary determinant of successful companies.
With Levantr, I was super impressed with Jen’s background and how it has informed her thinking in building out the Levantr marketplace model. Throughout her pitch, she demonstrated a strong understanding—and many first-hand experiences—of travelers exasperated by trying to coordinate and organize group itineraries.
And although Levantr is a very early-stage company, Jen’s smart, early execution and intelligence around which pieces of her company to prioritize initially makes me believe she’s got what it takes to build something big.
We’re super excited to welcome Jen to the Outlander family!
– Leura Craig, Outlander VC
Why do you want to work with Outlander VC?
When we started looking for early-stage investors, Outlander VC came highly recommended again and again. As an early-stage company creating an entirely new business model, we knew we needed investors who understand how to support an early-stage founding team and add value to our growth. For us, that’s Outlander VC.
What drew you to OutPitch 2.0?
Funnily enough, I actually attended the first OutPitch! I remember thinking it would be such a great opportunity for Levantr, so I immediately messaged them about the next one on Twitter. A few months later, we applied as soon as it opened.
To now win OutPitch 2.0 is surreal. We had just begun our fundraising journey, so winning this pitch competition strengthens our conviction that Levantr can help the industry. The whole experience and the Outlander VC team’s excitement have made us more energized and motivated to tackle the next hurdles and accelerate our growth!
Thank you again to all five of our OutPitch 2.0 finalists, who made our judges’ decision incredibly difficult by representing the most innovative early-stage tech startups across the US.
Watch each finalists’ live pitch and Q&A here:
Until next time, keep hunting and stay outlandish!
Leila is a communications strategist based in Birmingham, Alabama, who believes in investing in a better, more progressive future.
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