Ugandan tourism-tech startup Tripesa has raised a pre-seed round of funding as it seeks product-market fit ahead of continental expansion.
Tripesa began life as an online travel marketplace called RoundBob, which was forced to close as the tourism industry ground to a halt due to COVID-19. From the ashes, however emerged Tripesa, which is building infrastructure and logistics to help companies in the African tourism and experiences space do business online at a lower cost.
“With Tripesa, a business will get online, sell online, accept payments and manage basic operations,” said David Gonahasa, who co-founded the startup alongside Thomas Karugaba and Raymond Byaruhanga.
“Through the platform as a service solution, businesses can build no-code websites, itineraries, and client proposals, access a multi-currency payment platform to allow them accept digital payments online including cards and mobile money, and lastly manage basic business operations including bookings and marketing. With continuous development a business using Tripesa will be able to run most elements of their business in one place.”
The startup has been mostly bootstrapped, though Eric Osiakwan is an angel investor, but in June secured an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Future Africa, Consonance Investment Managers and LTNT Investments. Gonahasa told Disrupt Africa the funding will be used to enable Tripesa to achieve product-market fit.
“Tripesa is currently working on achieving product-market fit in Uganda and Kenya. The choice of these two markets is to try out cross-border functionality as Uganda and Kenya have a lot of cross-border travel with requirements to share information and payments. Post finding product-market fit, Tripesa intends to scale across the African continent,” he said.
Tripesa today has over 260 – mainly small – businesses in Uganda and Kenya signed up to the platform, and continues to see daily growth, with key interest in the website building feature.
“Larger businesses are expressing interest in the business automation and CRM functionality,” Gonahasa said.
“We believe at this point in the business, we are learning from these few customers constantly talking to our users and working our way towards creating a solution that really works for the market.”
This market is a significant one. The tourism industry earns Africa US$35 billion annually, and employs over 24 million people, with operations cutting across multiple sub-sectors like tour operators, travel agencies, tour guides, transport companies, souvenirs and trinkets, museums, events, F&B and many others.
“Unfortunately, it is difficult for many of these companies to do business online. Websites that work are expensive to build and run, it is difficult to distribute and manage product inventory across many marketplaces, payment systems are complex to integrate, and most operations still run on DM-to-book or call-to-book models. This extends to very limited automation of CRM activity, bookings management and more. Tripesa is building a consolidated solution to fix this at a very low cost,” said Gonahasa.
Tripesa makes money from subscriptions, priced at US$20 per user per month or US$180 per user per year.
“This includes a website, management dashboard, domain name, four free email addresses, and build support. This is much much cheaper than the cost of building a website that works. Additional revenues are generated from payments processing, installment payments and payouts management, marketing support, lead generation and more,” said Gonahasa.