Due Diligence For

CROWDFUNDING

Traveling Spoon

By January 25, 2017Due Diligence

Company Overview –

Traveling Spoon connects travelers with local, vetted hosts to share the joy of a homemade meal in their home and learn about their cultural and culinary traditions passed down through generations. They offer everything from meals to cooking classes to market tours.
*Souce: Seedinvest

Company

Investment

Name: Traveling Spoon

Minimum Raise: $150K

Co-CEOs: Steph Lawrence & Aashi Vel

Maximum Raise: $300K

Company Founded: 2013

Structure of Raise: Convertible Note, 20% Discount

Location: San Francisco, CA

Valuation: $6M Valuation Cap

Crowdfunding Portal: SeedInvest

Minimum Investment: $500
Crowdfunding Link: https://www.seedinvest.com/traveling.spoon/seed

 

Website: https://www.travelingspoon.com/

 

Review Overview

Positives

Risks and Reservations

Fair Valuation and discount upon conversion

There are few barriers to entry for current or new competitors with differentiation based on experiences and marketing rather than any technology or market advantages.

There is a strong management and advisory team with relevant domain, marketing, and technical experience.

Food travel is still an evolving industry and success is dependent on the experiences of the customers and hosts so that they are willing to continue participating.

Competition is small and fragmented with no clear industry leader

The travel and experience dining market is sensitive to economic downturns.

Partnerships with Expedia and Viator expand reach of offerings

Managing the marketing, host management, and event logistics has proven challenging for other companies in this space, including ones with significant financing.

Problem

People find it hard to connect with the local food and culture while traveling. Most people end up in the tourist spots instead of having an authentic experience.

Solution

Current:

Traveling Spoon created an online platform that connects travelers with locals, enabling them to share authentic experiences.

Long Term:

Over the next five years, Traveling Spoon wants to be in 2,000 cities, have 100,00 hosts and serve 10M travelers.

Business Model

Traveling Spoon has three revenue channels; 60% of revenue comes from their website, 25% through online travel partners (expected to grow to 40% over the next two years), and 15% through tour operators. They take a commission on every experience booked. The average price point for a meal and cooking class across all destinations is $66/person with a 28% average accrual margin over a full year.

Traction

  • Established presence in 29 countries
  • Developed a team with experience from Google, Groupon, Yahoo, and Alice Waters
  • Partnerships with Expedia and Viator
  • Launched website in September 2015 with a fully developed platform
  • Thousands of travelers served
    *Source: Company provided on crowdfunding campaign website

Senior Management Team

 

Stephanie Lawrence

Aashi Vel

Swati Raju

Position:

Co-Founder/Co-CEO Co-Founder/Co-CEO

CTO

Ownership Percent:

36.75% 38.25%

N/A

Linkedin:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/stepholawrence https://www.linkedin.com/in/aashi-vel-9240201

https://www.linkedin.com/in/swati-raju-5557422

Advisors:

  • Alice Waters – Founder of Chez Panisse and the Edible Schoolyard Project
  • Komal Kirtikar – Director of Marketing at Lyft
  • Ron Schneidermann – Co-Founder of Liftopia, CMO at AllTrails
  • Erik Blachford – Former CEO of Expedia, Former CEO of Butterfield & Robinson
  • Nick Grandy – First Engineer at Airbnb

Summary:

The management and advisory teams have excellent credentials in the areas that should help Traveling Spoon succeed.  However, the management team is small, and their skills generally do not overlap, so that in the event there is a problem with one or more founders, Traveling Spoon may not be able to compensate quickly to fill in any gaps. In addition, Traveling Spoon will need to hire new employees quickly as it ramps up and competition for talent in marketing, technology, and business development is intense.

Market Analysis

Industry: Culinary Tourism

TAM (Total Addressable Market): $246B
*Source: Seedinvest

Driving Trends:

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, culinary tourism is a fast growing market and is expected to continue its growth.

Industry Opinion:

The culinary tourism industry, as a segment of the food subsection of the travel industry, is large and as long as tourists are seeking food-related experiences and have disposable income for such experiences, the industry should continue to grow.  International tourism, in particular, has proven to be an attractive market, with numerous, but small, competitors involved.  The idea of in-home and personal culinary experiences is similar to Airbnb, which has proven widely successful.

Competition

Differentiator:

Traveling Spoon intends to rely on technical innovation, curation (creating a unique enjoyable experience) and brand ownership to differentiate from its competitors.  Technical innovation is based on expertise developing large online customer centered platforms and will be used to provide better-matched experiences.

Main Competitors:

  BookaLokal Vizeat WithLocals Feastly EatWith
Funds Raised $360K $5.55M $500K $1.25M $8M
Website http://www.bookalokal.com/ https://www.vizeat.com/ https://www.withlocals.com/  https://eatfeastly.com/   https://www.eatwith.com/

Competitive summary:

While there is no clear market leader, there are a number of other small companies with varying degrees of funding and market acceptance, all of whom are vying for similar customers, seeking partners and marketing exposure.  Larger travel-oriented companies, such as Airbnb, could also enter the market, through their own offerings or acquisition, and would pose a significant competitor if they did so.

Company Financials

Revenue to date: $44,923

Revenue Last Fiscal Year: $32,560 (2015)

Previous Funds Raised:

  • $870K raised from January 2014-July 2014 through the sale of its convertible promissory notes
  • ~$660K from the sale of SAFE notes

Use of Funds

If minimum amount is raised:

  • 23% engineering & development
  • 26% sales & marketing
  • 35% general & administrative
  • 11% offering fees & expenses
  • 4% regional management
  • 1% unspecified

If maximum amount is raised:

  • 36% general & administrative
  • 27% sales & marketing
  • 24% engineering & development
  • 8% offering fees & expenses
  • 5% regional management

Exit Opportunities

The most realistic exit is to be acquired by another culinary travel company or by a larger company in the travel industry.  Airbnb has already acquired similar companies and is likely to continue to opportunistically seek to acquire more companies.

Recent Acquisitions in the Field

Date Company Acquired Acquired By Amount
Sept. 19, 2016 Trip4real Airbnb Unknown
April 5, 2016 onefinestay AccorHotels $170M

*Trip4real: Experience Europe like a local. Book tours and activities hosted by local insiders across Europe and experience a place like you live there.
*Onefinestay: Pioneers of handmade hospitality, for stays in the finest homes. They offer homeowners (our hosts) a way to earn additional income from guests while they’re away, handling everything from marketing to managing their home.

Expert Opinion Summary

Traveling Spoon has an excellent management team and advisory group, including strong investors.  They are also raising enough additional money from other investors to give them a long runway.  Despite this, the market is still new and developing and there are a lot of competitors.  Other culinary tourism companies have raised a lot of money and failed due to the challenges, but Traveling Spoon seems well positioned to have a chance of success.

AngelList: https://angel.co/traveling-spoon
Crunchbase: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/traveling-spoon#/entity

Disclaimer

Crowdfund Research and its authors do not offer investment advice, nor do we endorse or recommend investments in any company or the suitability of an investment for any particular investor. Crowdfund Research is not registered as a broker-dealer or financial or investment advisor and does not provide any services requiring such registration. The information in this report or on our website regarding any company is based on publicly available information or directly from the subject company.  Crowdfund Research makes no representation or warrant as to the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of such information. Any opinions or forecasts expressed herein are our own, are not intended as investment advice and are subject to change without notice. This report has been prepared solely for informative purposes and is not a solicitation of an offer to buy or an offer to sell any security.
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Todd Taylor

Todd Taylor

Senior Business Attorney at JUX Law Firm
Todd helps entrepreneurs with challenging legal issues facing their businesses. For almost 20 years, Todd has provided practice legal advice on business formation, angel and venture financing, contracts and buying and selling businesses. Todd enjoys working with technology companies, including those in cleantech, energy, food and agtech, IoT and manufacturing. Todd also represents investors in early stage companies and has been involved as a co-founder in a number of start up companies.
Todd Taylor

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