Bo Irik is a 27-year old Dutch girl, co-founder of SeaBookings, with her sister Femke. In Spring 2015, they found out about DISCOVERIES, an acceleration programme for travel&tourism startups, on Facebook.
As Bo tells us, it was a fun challenge to take part in.
"The DISCOVERIES programme was held during SeaBookings' high season [summer], and as it is a tourism startup, it depends a lot of the summer months, so it required some effort to both do the programme and take care of our business."
"Initially we thought the acceleration programme was targeted at startups in their initial stages, but the team responsible for DISCOVERIES assured us it definitely would be interesting for startups like us [already making profit] to participate."
Bo and Femke decided to apply and were one of the 15 selected from 120 applications.
"DISCOVERIES had such a positive impact on SeaBookings, as it helped us validate some hypothesis we had only assumed until then, but never really tested on the field, so to speak."
"We literally went to Lisbon's downtown and spoke with tourists, asking them if they knew they could do boat tours in Lisbon, how they did their research on what to do in Lisbon, their favourite payment methods when buying online. That way we got to know our end-user really well, which is the tourist."
Another big win on participating in DISCOVERIES was the network Bo created. Not only did she give other startups useful advice, but also got some wise words back. They shared their lessons learned by the end of each day and Bo felt there was big support and information sharing.
"I spoke a lot with a startup from Montenegro who had a great experience in SEO [Search Engine Optimization], who helped us find out what are the best topics to write about, how to choose and write the best keywords when writing content, which images we should use for the blog posts, how to disclose the blog posts to our partners to reach out to as many people as possible, among many other things. We applied all that knowledge and actually got a big boost on people visiting our site in a very short period of time."
On the Investment Day, when startups do their pitch, Bo was approached by a business angel that same day.
"So I heartily recommend DISCOVERIES, it is a great way to network with other tourism&travel startups, which makes this programme unique, as we all share the same challenges, we have the same customer and many times we also have the same partners, so we have a lot to learn from each other. "
Gosh! I feel like starting my own startup now so I can participate in DISCOVERIES.