Connecticut startup Kayak has raised $223 million in venture capital and employs 58 people to build and grow its travel search site. Its chief competitor, San Francisco based Mobissimo, has raised $1 million and has just 15 employees. Mobissimo also became profitable last year, and the company doesn’t have to raise more money unless it’s to fuel faster growth or acquisitions.
It’s also clear even from a cursory comparison of the two sites that Mobissimo is trying harder than Kayak to help you find exactly the flight and hotel you are looking for. Kayak is largely similar to other travel search sites – enter where you want to go and get back results from a number of providers, sort by price, etc.
But Mobissimo has implemented a number of just plain smart features that provide the kind of travel options that you usually need a human operator or travel agent to get to. In addition to normal search results, for example, users also see options for the lowest priced non-stop fares, the lowest priced alternative dates, and the lowest priced business class fares (without doing new searches). And if there’s a train between the two destinations, Mobissimo will show those results along with the flights – you may get there faster and cheaper that way, and you’d never think to search for train schedules separately.
And even better, the service will look for related destinations and show you the lowest fares there, too. For example, a search for flights to Poland may show other Eastern European destinations if the prices are a lot lower. Or if you are looking for flights to an airport near a beach, Mobissimo will show you other flights to other beach destinations, perhaps thousands of miles away (and skiing, and wine regions, etc.). It’s very hard to find these kinds of travel options with online searches. If you are flying to Warsaw, you just don’t think to do a search to Prague, too, to see if it’s vastly cheaper.
And if all you want to do is find a quick getaway to gamble, play golf, drink wine, go to a beach or just about anything else, you can search primarily by activity, too. Mobissimo also has widgets on the site that pull in third party information about the destination. Weather, Flickr photos and (soon) travel guides are included in the left sidebar.
All of this isn’t to say that Mobissimo has more traffic or sales than Kayak – see the Comscore chart here for their relative sizes. But Mobissimo is a solid, profitable startup with a great user experience. And they’ve done it with next to no financial resources.
The company was founded by Beatrice Tarka in October 2003.