Entrepreneur360

How This Travel Company Scored Big by Playing It Safe

How This Travel Company Scored Big by Playing It Safe

Slow build: TJ Sassani of Zozi.

Image credit: Courtesy of Zozi

This company was included in our Entrepreneur360™ Performance Index coverage.  

To say the travel industry presents challenges for a startup would be an understatement. For starters, the industry is highly fragmented, with tens of thousands of operators around the world. Also, many merchants are behind the technology curve, which means centralizing them onto one platform can be like herding cats.

Perhaps this explains why San Francisco-based Zozi, which provides online booking software for travel outfitters, has been playing it safe. According to founder and CEO TJ Sassani, the company spent its first three years being primarily angel- financed, with dozens of investors writing relatively small checks. Only after Zozi had a steady base of customer accounts did Sassani seek venture money to help speed along growth.

“We have had no problem building this gradually,” he says, noting that the company has raised a total of $60 million.

In terms of employees, Zozi’s philosophy is simple: The company prides itself on team play, yet executives drive decision-making -- no ifs, ands or buts.

Zozi’s goal is to hit $1 billion in gross transactions, a milestone Sassani expects to achieve in 2016. A secondary objective is to get to 20,000 merchants by next year, a number that would make Zozi about half the size of OpenTable. From there, of course, the plan is about as traditional as they come: filing for an IPO.