Launchpad finalist Waymate turns to megacities for transport-booking success

Planning a trip can be tricky when you need to compare different modes of transport, but Waymate – one of our Structure:Europe Launchpad finalists this year — is trying to make it easier. The startup provides a unified interface for searching across flights, trains and car travel, and it even lets users book directly from its site, rather than being sent to a third-party provider.

That’s no easy task. It requires the management of a significant amount of data coming in from disparate sources and, even more challengingly, it means some crafty deal-making with the transport providers, who usually want to keep their schedules and customer relationships to themselves.

We covered Waymate’s launch back in April. Since then, said CEO Maxim Nohroudi (pictured above on the right), lessons have been learned. For a start, Waymate has ditched Airline Direct in favor of Skyscanner as its flight data provider (“[Airline Direct’s] data was not what they promised it would be”), but Waymate is also working on revamping its web user interface.

The biggest lesson, though, is that users care about the local travel aspect of the service much more than they do about long-distance travel. As Nohroudi told me, Waymate’s division of short- and long-distance travel was an accidental feature that revealed what he calls “a goldmine”:

“We see usage and stickiness is very high. Of course they also use the far section… but in the near section where we have all the public transportation all over Germany and all car-sharing, people are using this like crazy. That got us thinking, and we thought maybe this urban transportation part is something that we should look into more deeply.

“We are working very hard at having an urban transportation product. We see that as a topic for megacities all around the world.”

And to that end, Nohroudi is touring the world, looking for new partnerships that can make Waymate viable in different regions – Latin America last week, and on Tuesday he’s off to China and Singapore. What’s more, Waymate is growing to meet the expected demand: the company intends to more-or-less double its 20-strong staff by early next year.

Waymate is certainly ambitious  – no-one else has pulled off what it is trying to achieve, and there are a lot of good reasons for that. But it’s off to a good start.

Good enough to win Launchpad? We’ll see – it’s a strong field this year. Be sure to check out the 10 finalists at Structure:Europe, which is running next week in London. Don’t worry: there’s still time to pick up a ticket.