Pintrips, a new personal travel planning startup, is today publicly entering the competitive, crowded travel space with the public debut of its online pinboard for tracking flights and prices. The service operates differently from the typical price comparison engines and aggregators, as its focus isn’t only on finding the best prices and schedules – it’s about being able to compare different flights, dates or even destinations side-by-side, track price changes in real-time, and coordinate with others on trip planning.
The idea came to founder and CEO Stephen Gotlieb when he became frustrated while trying to plan a flight from San Francisco to Tel-Aviv with his family. He would send his family flight options, but given the 10-hour time difference, by the time they responded, the price on the flight had already changed or seats were sold out.
To address this problem, Gotlieb created Pintrips, which offers an online dashboard allowing users to “pin” their favorite flights on one screen and track the flight price changes in real-time. This is helpful in terms of finding the best deal when coordinating with others on booking a trip, such as in Gotlieb’s situation above, but it also lets individual users compare the changes across different flight times or travel dates, as well as different destinations altogether.
If you were planning a “tropical getaway,” for example, you might want to compare a variety of trips to various island or beach destinations while in search of the best deal. Or you might want a place to house your favorite trips as you continue to research local activities and lodging options. This is something that’s difficult today using flight aggregators and others services, which are more focused on getting you flight times and prices, or want to sell packaged vacation deals.
On Pintrips, as you find flights or itineraries you like, you can just click a button to see them laid out on the screen. Your board can also be shared with others who can then add their own pinned flights or comments on your board about the trips you found. The service currently supports American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, U.S. Air and Virgin America, in terms of airlines. And it supports search sites Google, Expedia, Kayak, and Orbitz, with more to come.
To use the service, you have to download a Pintrips browser plugin which adds a “Pin” button to travel sites next to every flight configuration, allowing you to pin the flights to your dashboard.
“We’re introducing something the Internet couldn’t do on its own,” says Gotlieb of the service, “and we’re expecting frequent travelers to recognize the benefits with the first board they create, especially since Google research shows that consumers make 12 online searches, visit 22 sites, and take 29 days from initial search to book,” he adds.
The service first launched into beta in November 2012, and traction during that time was encouraging, the company notes. The service has grown to 20,000 users who pinned 7,000 itineraries, and on some days, conversions were as high as 20 percent. Beta testers generally spent up to an entire month before booking their trip and used around 11 different sites during their research phase.
Now that Pinboards is launched, it will focus on its new “public pinboards” feature, which allows anyone to access the top, crowd-sourced flight deals to major destinations, including both the notable pins and the most recent ones. (For example, here’s a board for San Francisco, pictured above.)
Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Pintrips’ founding team includes CTO Eugene Mirkin, formerly CTO at Bobik and Via-Cell Technologies; Expedia founding team member Timothy O’Neil-Dunne; and Paul Addy. The company raised $200,000 from friends and family, we is closing on a $300,000 seed round with outside angel investors including Saar Gillai SVP of Converged Cloud at HP, and Sharam Sasson, founder of Extensity. The company is preparing to raise a Series A in the near future.
Note, this article was updated 4/17/13 to clarify how the $500K in seed funding was split.