Arabian Travel Market: Zero commission start-up Welcome to the World named best start-up

Arabian Travel Market: Zero commission start-up Welcome to the World named best start-up

Winner of inaugural Draper-Aladdin competition took home $30,000 and chance to bid for $500,000

Zero commission hotel OTA Welcome to the World was named winner of the inaugural ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition at the annual trade show in Dubai this week.

The firm beat 15 other finalists in the start-up pitch competition winning a guaranteed $30,000 and the chance to increase that to $500,000.

Digital tour guide platform SmartGuide and route marketplace Road.Travel were placed in second and third place respectively.

Having won, Welcome to the World now has the opportunity to bid to appear on US hit TV show Meet the Drapers and further funding.

The firm currently has more than 185,000 monthly users and is working with brands such as Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Accor, Address Hotels + Resorts, W Hotels, Radisson Blu and Ritz-Carlton Dubai. 

The investment gained as part of the first ever ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition follows $264,000 already secured as part of a pre-seed round.

Welcome to the World states that it aims to solve the problem of high rates of commission charged by OTAs. 

Described as ‘YouTube for tourism’, the platform enables tourism businesses and travel influencers to drive direct bookings commission-free by sharing videos.

Founder and chief executive Stefanie Schachtschabel said: “We are obviously very happy. We have been working hard to reach where we are today and having the confidence of so many investors mean the world to us. So how do I feel? Happy, that’s for sure.

“We are in the midst of our seed round, which means we are onboarding investment. These funds will be used to build in state-of-the-art technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to monetise our data, and also to scale our business to the 48 destinations that we are currently targeting,” she added.

AladdinB2B’s Alaa Ismail Al Haija said: “I’m an entrepreneur myself so I know what it means to have a dream to be successful. The most important thing is to be supported and to feel that you are not alone. 

“That’s why we are seeing so much support for entrepreneurs in Dubai today. This ecosystem is the most important thing and I’m fortunate to be contributing a little part of it.”

Danielle Curtis, Middle East exhibition director for ATM added: “The ATM Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will act as a springboard for innovative travel and tourism companies that are working to reshape our industry for the better. 

“I would like to offer my congratulations to all of the finalists and in particular to Stefanie and the rest of the Welcome to the World team.”

The Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition judges included: Hadi Saeed AlShakhori, business incubation manager at Wa’ed; Walid Tarabih, founder and chief executive of PLATX, and former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office of the UAE; Matthew Gardiner, founder of A1 AI; and Bashar Sami El-Khasawneh, associate professor at Khalifa University.

The other finalists not placed in the top three were:, Elves, Gauvendi, Hotailors, Lykos, Octoos, OnArrival, SLF, S-Rate, Teamatix, Telgani and Travelexic.