Ali Basij: Tech Travel Company That Makes Traveling Convenient, Safe and Fast

October 9, 2022

instaHop is a tech travel company that makes traveling convenient, safe and fast, by matching travelers with experiences and then matching them with local hosts in real time, using AI-Geolocation tech.

Tell us about yourself?

Ali is a serial technical entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience in various tech/product development teams including large companies (Amazon, Zenoti, and autoTrader), as well as two innovative tech startups.

He is also an alumni of multiple top startup incubators and accelerators (500-Startup in Silicon Valley , Blueprint in Hong Kong, sFoundation in San Francisco).

He earned his Master of Software Systems in 2010 from UBC, Vancouver, Canada. instaHop is his second tech startup, after EquitySim where he raised $3M from major VC’s in the U.S.

At EquitySim, he built and led a team of 18 exceptional talents to create the best financial markets simulation powered by AI and Machine Learning.

At instaHop, he gathered a technology-driven team to invent a new way for travelers to enjoy the best matching experiences conveniently. The team includes local people who love to meet and help visitors anytime and anywhere.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

To spend more time researching and understanding the target markets and target audiences.

What problem does your business solve?

Travelers spend 23 billion hours for Research, Planning, and Reservation in North America every year.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Ali founded instaHop in 2019 because he always faced issues in finding the best matching experiences and activities based on his interests and budget while traveling.

The idea of instaHop started when he was visiting Montreal, Canada during summer 2018 with his family where one of his friends who used to live in that city for 7 years sent her a list of her recommendations based on Ali and her family’s interests, food, walking trails, nature garden, desert, historical places, etc.

Although, her friend was not with him, she acted like an informed local for them and by trying just a few things on that list, they all loved it.

Once he was back he thought a lot about his experience and what differences can a trustable and informed local make for a traveler.

So he decided to start a company to help each traveler find the best matching local host and love the experience.

What is your magic sauce?

Proprietary AI-Geolocation technology + Top Local Operation Team.

instaHop is unique in four major fields:

  • 1. Safety: Previously vetted and trained local hosts.
  • 2. Logistic team on the ground
  • 3. Private transportation
  • 4. Instant availability by Mobile app

Competitive Advantages:

  • 1. B2B2C: Serving guests directly, Partnership with local businesses
  • 2. Highly Scalable and Controllable: Full control of Price, Itinerary, and Quality, Scaling up and down based on Demand forecast
  • 3. Patentable Technology: Matching Guest and Host as well as Demand Forecasting
  • 4. Online Platform: Replaces Tour Operator (TO) & Travel Agency (TA)
  • 5. Local Operation Team: Replaces Tour Provider (TP)

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Building a future where a traveler can easily plan & instantly start her trip by the help of the sophisticated AI-powered technology, completely integrated with local Operation teams and other business partners. (Airlines, Cruise lines, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants and Bars, and Transportation companies)

Strategic Priorities based on Ansoff Matrix:

  • 1) Market Penetration (Reach 10% market share in each destination)
  • 2) Market Development: Mexico, USA, Canada, top 10 countries in Europe
  • 3) Product Development (Experiences – Activities – Tickets)

5 years Goals:

  • 1) Expanding into 164 cities in North America and Europe
  • 2) Growing our customer base exponentially to 226,000+
  • 3) Dominating 2 initial markets by earning 10% share

* Timeline: 2025 to 2027

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Building a solution that a considerable part of travelers LOVE it!

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Out of 121 customers so far, 78 reviews were submitted and our NPS is 100!

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