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The 12th participant is - is a site that sells airfares along with a carbon offset, based on the details of the flight. Many Australian and European airlines are currently doing this – but many US-based airlines are still far from it. So there is a niche market for it in the US. The website is targeted at US users and will also offer hotel and car booking services. Currently, no air booking system in the US is available that ties flight details to carbon emissions and sells only tickets with this offset included in the total price.

It started with an idea in the shower in 2006. The founders behind this will soon announce themselves in March.
Let us explore a bit further how is progressing.

Q. How long it took before it was up and running?
A. We are still in development – It's been about 1.5 years in the making. Most time was spent exploring different approaches with many barriers. Finally, a way forward was struck in November 2007, and the site is expected to launch in mid-March 2008.

Q. What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional?
A. For all intents and purposes, we'll call it stealth – so please be quiet about our details until March.

Q. What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
A. To increase funding to carbon reduction projects (like wind farm construction) and to increase awareness about the issues driving climate change.

Q. What services it provide it for consumers or customers?
A. An all-in-one stop for guilt-free travelling!

Q. What is unique about your venture?
A. The service it offers and the unique niche market that will be attracted to it.

Q. What market segment verticals you are targeting?
A. Eco-aware individuals in the US who travel, of all ages.

Q. What type of customers you are targeting?
A. Those in the market segment!

Q. What age group of people will benefit most?
A. Everyone on the planet, effectively, along with the mindsets of our customers.

Q. How many users are using your services?
A. None at the moment!

Q. What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
A. Press releases to blogs in this area of interest, along with Google AdWords and search engine optimisations.

Q. How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
A. Generally, how many bookings we get – and even hits to the main site, so we know people will look at it and understand its message and importance. We're creating a flash movie that explains everything as well –even hits to this will be deemed as successful as the bookings themselves.

Q. What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
A. As an affiliate of several large booking agencies, we will get some basic commissions on airfares, and better commissions on hotel bookings and car bookings (we have a carbon offset for these too).

Q. Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment? What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
A. All of the main booking sites in the US – Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, hotwire, Priceline. The main technologies behind our system are web services (SOAP) based, on talking to our affiliates. For IP, we have some algorithms which are used to calculate offsets for air travel (based on takeoffs/landings/distance/etc.), hotel accommodation, and car rental.

Q. What has been the easiest to use, out of the box and most helpful technology?
A. PHP! and Web Services standardisations. I would have loved to do this in Ruby, but I have worries about the runtime for this kind of environment.

Q. Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
A. 100% open source tools.

Q. What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
A. LAMP – Linux Apache Mysql PHP

Q. How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
A. I met up with a guy in Hawaii doing a site that uses similar backends to mine. This was great we had been emailing for several months and he's provided most of my guidance which has helped me to get where I am.

Q. How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
A. Personal and family investments have covered this one. Out of hand, just several thousands of dollars (for hired coding help, mostly.).

Q. What are the main barriers in general for people to start their venture in Australia?
A. Lack of VC's – although personally, I would rather work on a project (such as my own) where there is no requirement for VC's!

Q. What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
A. It will only get bigger -especially the green area.

Q. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
A. Yes – anyone can have an idea. It's seeing through an implementation that is hard.

Thanks to the founders of for sharing their thoughts. We look forward to hear from them in future on the progress of All the best for and the competition in this carnival.


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