Howzat! – wotsthat?

January 22, 2007

Just after Christmas I met up with Hugo Burge who is Vice-Chairman & Head of International at Cheapflights. He was telling me about the amazing success story of their Internet business.

Even though full of a cold, he was full of enthusiasm for what they had achieved in the five years since they started. I came away from the meeting enthused for the rest of the week! No, it was not all downhill and they had to overcome the many obstacles through hard work and luck.

I’ll quote their press release to relate that story:

“In 2000, Hugo Burge and David Soskin co-ordinated a group of private investors in a Cheapflights management buy-in. Profitable since launch, Cheapflights was an early media internet company and a pioneer in its sector. It revolutionised the way consumers research and purchase flights and other travel products. Since 2000, Hugo and David have built the company from a three person operation into a leading business in its sector; expanded successfully into the USA; increased sales twenty five times; and organically grown traffic from 350,000 to over 5.25 million global unique users a month. “

Anyway, what prompts this writeup is that today the CheapFlights team has launched a new Internet investment fund Howzat Media and have made their first investment in WAYN. I bet they are keen cricket fans!

Launched with an initial US$10 million, the new fund has a clearly defined focus: to identify and invest in start-up and early-stage internet media companies that are re-inventing the way in which consumers access and use online information.

It will seek out global opportunities in internet media, including, but not exclusively, in the travel sector. This investment profile reflects Cheapflights’ own successful business model.

WAYN was co-founded by Jerome Touze, Peter Ward and Mike Lines, and has grown from 45,000 members in March 2005 to nearly 7 million members from all over the world. WAYN is the largest travel and lifestyle membership community in the world and is the only social network that allows its members to keep track of its members from around the world and make new friends based on where they have been, where they are now and where they are going. WAYN’s revenues have grown tenfold in the last year and is one of the only web 2.0 ventures that generates a profit.

I wish Hugo and the rest of the team success with their fund.

And don’t forget…

If you want some money and arrive at their office to pitch, start off with a good cricket anecdote and you won’t go wrong!

2nd March 2006 update: Howzat! just invested in The website is a terrific way to share and read up on reviews for unusual bars, cafes, restaurants and places to hang out. It has been run by the two founders Walid and Sokratis, who have an amazing passion for their website. They have made terrific progress already and have plenty more exciting plans. The focus at the moment and the place with most reviews is London.

What makes Cheapflights tick – David Soskin talks about what has made them successful?

To view their press release: Read the rest of this entry »