It’s 2020 and we all live in the future! As we enter a new decade, I thought I’d look back, as I did this time last year, and reflect on what the Shep team accomplished in 2019 as we look forward to an exciting new year.
Looking back at 2019
Last year we completed our pivot from the SMB market to the enterprise space after discovering two critical things at the same time:
- That the “unmanaged” market (typically companies that spend less than $1M in biz travel) was incredibly fragmented and hard to target, requiring a much larger marketing and sales team.
- That the SMB-focused solution we’d built held a lot of allure to larger, “managed” companies whose employees insisted on booking some portion (usually about 30%) of their travel on consumer sites instead of their “managed” online booking tools like Concur and GetThere.
As a result, we did a lot of exploration and learning in larger companies in 2018 to see if it might be a fit but fully shifted our focus to the enterprise market in 2019. And while we can’t yet name names, we’ve been working on early-stage pilots with some very large companies.
From a product perspective, we added several enterprise-specific features as well as deepening our data capabilities:
- Created our Rogue Report “leakage audit” tool to measure whether historically, companies had employees booking outside of their programs on >1,300 sites.
- Increased the number of supported sites that we capture and report real-time data on to >70.
- Built dynamic hotel rate cap policy so that a “max spend” limit can be set on a city-by-city basis.
- Released our first custom messaging modal, allowing travel managers to display the “right” message at the “right” time, either on their online booking tool or on consumer sites.
- Launched the ability to white label our product.
- Added much more advanced encryption and data protection.
- Focused on getting GDPR compliant.
On the fundraising front, we also raised an additional investment in 2019 from existing investors like Moonshots Capital, along with adding some great new investors like Plug and Play, the travel accelerator whose demo day event we won in December 2018, and most recently, Flight Centre. Australia-based Flight Centre is one of the five largest corporate travel management companies (TMCs) in the world. This funding has, and will, support our continued growth in the enterprise space.
Looking Forward to 2020
With Flight Centre’s investment on the last day of 2019, we are very excited to be entering 2020 with a great, strategic partner, an expanded team to speed up our product development, and several large companies coming out of pilot to become live customers.
Shifting direction is never easy but after laying the groundwork last year, 2020 is the year when our big decisions start to really pay off.