The Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) have announced that 11 innovative tourism startups from Vietnam and three from Lao PDR have qualified for the Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Startup Accelerator program.
More than 250 travel tech and traditional tourism startups applied to the MIST program. The Travel Startups Incubator, based in the United States, screened applications based on their potential for investment and the quality of their business plans. MBI experts performed additional due diligence, considering sustainability and other socio-economic criteria. Finally, selections were verified in partnership with the Danang City Incubator (DNES).
Qualifying startups will advance to a MIST Startup Accelerator bootcamp from May 5-7, 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia alongside six innovative tourism startups from Cambodia and Myanmar. Market experts including Deputy Director of TMG Cong Nguyen, Investment Director of Gobi Ventures Victor Chua and Founder of Triip.me Hai Ho will mentor startups at the bootcamp.
Qualifiers from Vietnam include:
Bayo’s mission is to help Vietnamese make the best travel decisions by helping them find the right travel information, right suppliers, right products and prices, and to transact with local suppliers easily
Chameleon City is an on-demand chat-based service providing travel and lifestyle answers from local experts, 24/7.
Dichung uses technology to promote low-impact rideshare transportation options, giving drivers the chance to trade free seats in their vehicles and working with taxi companies to develop vanpools.
Hue Free Walking Tour operates the first and only walking tour of Hue that also offers add-on historical tours and hands-on experiences for independent English-speaking travelers.
I Love Asia offers women-led motorbike tours of Hoi An and Hue while supporting projects for disadvantaged communities in the cities in which they work.
Innaway is a mediator between hotels and travelers, helping hotels maximize revenue and improve quality standards, and helping travelers to travel smarter with better assistance and support.
Mimoza creates 3D virtual tours of top travel destinations, allowing potential and current tourists, travel providers and students to use virtual and augmented reality systems to learn about hotels, heritage sites, restaurants and more.
Morning Rooms is Vietnam’s largest budget hotel network, assisting economical tourists to find the right quality rooms at the price they need.
Oneclicktogo is an all-in-one trip planning website offering flight and hotel booking, guide book recommendations and a review platform, working to create a powerful tech-based tourism ecosystem that brings Mekong tourism businesses to the global market.
Tugo is a technology-based tour operator and travel community, striving to offer low-cost and reliable packages and tours around the world.
Putaleng Legend will offer diverse ecotourism experiences, adventure trekking tours and authentic ethnic cultural tours through its sustainable ecolodge.
Qualifiers from the Lao PDR include:
Artisan Origins by TAEC offers authentic, high quality crafts from rural ethnic communities in Lao PDR. It also includes a café and information center about handicraft communities.
Ma Te Sai preserves cultural heritage while developing skills and offering employment options for youth in Nambak. It includes a multipurpose information center and roadside café.
Passa Paa is a design and print studio in Luang Prabang creating and selling innovative Hmong-inspired textiles that promote traditional textile culture with a modern appeal.
“MIST promotes sustainable tourism, giving innovative startups the potential to transform travel in one of the most dynamic regions on earth”, said Jens Threanhart, executive director of MTCO.
Dominic Mellor, head of the MBI, added, “We’re proud of this batch of startups. They are fueling the right kind of tourism growth that positively impacts the tourism experience and local communities”.
Approximately half of all Startup Accelerator finalists, selected by mentors, will advance from the bootcamp to an investor showcase at the Mekong Tourism Forum in Luang Prabang on June 6, 2017. There, startups will present their business plans to media, investors and an expert judging panel. Ultimately, four will receive innovation grants of $7,000-$10,000 USD.