Please, introduce yourself. When did you move to Bali, where do you live, etc…?
My name is Alexis Wagner, co-founder of the Bali startup BookandLink: booking engine, channel manager and payment gateway.
I am from Paris, France. I did my studies in visual communication and multimedia. At that time, the internet was just booming, freshly out from university with our degrees, we had many opportunities to choose between companies which wanted to hire us. I worked for an American startup company based in Paris. After a year, I decided to work freelance and I worked for Accor Hotel Web for at least a year before I decided to move to Asia 13 years ago.
Today I live in Canggu-Berawa (Bali). It’s a great place to be. Still not as developed as the Seminyak area which makes us enjoy the lay down country life style. But still very close from our office in Kerobokan.
When, how and why did you find your company and what made you decide to jump in and create the business?
A couple of years ago, with 2 other partners, we sold a few of our businesses and properties in Bali. We, as villas owners, saw the total takeover of the hospitality business by the OTAs (Online Travel Agent : Agoda, Expedia, Bedforest, Airbnb, Booking.com …).
Let’s face it, today if your property is not registered with all the major OTAs, you wouldn’t sell many nights.
Registration to each of them means a lot of work for the staff to follow up and mistakes could be made, such as double bookings and else.
We thought it would be interesting to develop a specific tool for managing all these OTAs at the same time in only one platform. BookandLink was born.
It took us about one and half year to develop and a few months to test it, make some key partnerships with other companies and else. Two month ago, we started to market our product.
Did you get any funding arrangements?
We did not call for investors; since day 1 we handled it by ourselves.
As a new startup, we are looking for partnerships to push it to the next level. We are open to listen what investors have to offer.
What is the size of your team today, name of founders, management roles and key personnel?
Today our team is composed of 3 founders, Alexis, Philippe and Alain.
It is an everyday brainstorming on marketing strategy and development plans.
We have about 10 IT developers and 7 office staff and marketing.
FACING THE MARKET
What is wrong with your specific industry that requires a startup like yours to help it out?
Indonesia, especially Bali is a niche market for our product. Today, many property owners, hotels, villas, guesthouses, just build their place and have no clue on how to market it and/or manage it.
We offer them a tool to handle in one place all this. Our software is online so they can deal easily with their bookings from anywhere in the world.
It synchronizes all the booking calendars and customizes our software according to our customers’ specific needs. Plus, we are the only company which is really dedicated to the Indonesian market, with a professional team to follow up and support our clients.
What is the estimation of the market size?
Today, Indonesia has thousands of hotels, villas, guesthouses. From previous studies, only 10 to 15% of them are using a program such ours.
Who are your competitors?
Big groups such as Siteminder, Little Hotelier, Hotel Link Solutions…
But these competitors are worldwide and only have representative in Indonesia instead of a real development team. Even though their products are good, they don’t answer specifically to how the hospitality business is working here. Our system is much more targeted and flexible.
What is your revenue model and strategy for profitability?
We are charging a monthly fee depending on the options and size of the property.
What are the biggest challenges you faced/are facing now?
Our biggest challenge is to educate people about our software and its use. In the rest of the world, booking engine and channel manager is a MUST to any properties who wants to generate revenue online. Here in Bali we are at the beginning of it. After years of using local agents for rental, step by step, people switch to OTAs. BookandLink is made for them.
STARTUPING IN BALI
Describe your Bali startup in three words.
Hospitality, Tool, Management
Why did you choose Bali to start your business?
It is a continuity of what we were doing since 13 years now. Targeting niche market, investing, developing, selling…
What are for you the great advantages of working in Bali ?
In Bali, you still can create anything you want. It is a place full of inspiration, lot of cultures mixed together, walking around and you will cross at least 10 different people from all over the word in less than 5 minutes.
What are your favorite media channels and why ?
We don’t do that much of social media because our product is more dedicated to professionals. We do a lot of emails and calls to explain potential clients who we are.
What is your strategy for raising awareness and customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
Advertising, on different platforms. But most of our potential clients come from recommendation. People are really in need of help in online distribution.
What are the 3 main growth hacks that worked for you?
Creating key local partnership to extend our services. Owning ourselves properties to answer our own needs. Recruiting a great team.
INTO THE FUTURE
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
In 3 years’ time, we aim to be a major player on our field of course, specifically in Indonesia. Our biggest challenge is and will be to educate people on the importance of a tool like ours for their business.
Which company would be the best fit to buy your Bali startup ?
Let’s say a competitor who will need a solid local partnership to answer the specific market in Indonesia.
What do you need most right now? How can the Bali startup community help?
Time to build up our clients list step by step.