STARTUP STAGE: Crewfare aims to make booking event and group travel easy



Crewfare is a customizable group travel booking platform offering events, festivals, sports and brands with the ability to capitalize on travel while providing attendees with a streamlined and simpler booking solution.

In its first two years, the company has facilitated travel for more than 200,000 people and more than 100 event partners, achieving profitability without outside funding.

What is your 30-second pitch to investors?

Crewfare utilizes cutting-edge technology to simplify and enhance group and experiential travel. As a travel tech disruptor, we’ve developed an innovative platform that finally puts the focus on the journey, not just the destination. Where old-school travel companies catered to solo travelers and bucket-list spots, we empower tour operators, conference organizers and attendees to seamlessly coordinate and enjoy unforgettable shared adventures. Our suite of products makes planning, booking and managing group trips effortless. 

Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.

On the business side, Crewfare is laser-focused on modernizing event travel and operations. We provide value to both attendees and organizers through discounted accommodations, seamless booking and data-driven logistics. Our founding team’s industry expertise helps us understand these users’ unique needs.

We monetize through commissions, software subscriptions and ancillary revenues. Our multi-product strategy creates diversified revenue streams. We’ve achieved profitability without outside funding, giving us flexibility to reinvest and scale.

On the technology front, our platform provides an integrated booking experience tailored specifically for events. Users can seamlessly book hotels, transportation, tickets and more in one place. Our customized dashboards help organizers manage logistics and travel across internal teams or external attendees.

By merging industry expertise with technical innovation, Crewfare is positioned to lead the next generation of event and group travel. Our business model solves real problems for organizers and attendees, while our technology builds the seamless experiences they expect. This combination sets us up for sustainable growth.

Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.


First-to-market, integrated travel booking platform specifically for events and groupsStrong experience in travel, hospitality and events among founding team Rapid growth in first two years – facilitated travel for 200K+ people, 100+ event partnersMultiple revenue streams – commissions, fees, software salesProfitable and fast-growing without outside funding to date Our overall product ecosystem offers end-to-end solutions that complement each other to create a 360-degree service


As a newer company, lacks brand awareness of larger online travel agency playersInitial focus has been on music events, expanding further into other event typesBootstrapped team means limited capabilities to take on massive scope of projects Newer technology with many offerings means there is a learning curve when pitching new clients


Three of our products are still in beta and awaiting mass-market release Capitalize on flexible work/travel trends by partnering with digital nomad/remote worker communitiesDevelop new products and features tailored to event and group travel needsPursue partnerships with major travel brands to complement existing offeringsExpand globally

READ MORE  The best hotel loyalty program for business travelers


Heavy competition from large OTAs Post-pandemic economic uncertainty may impact appetite for event travel   Not moving quickly enough to launch our new products

What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?

For customers/travelers:

Difficulty finding affordable accommodations for major events when demand surgesComplicated logistics of booking group travel for events with friends/familyLack of a centralized platform catered specifically to event-goers’ needs

For events/hospitality industry and travel suppliers:

Lost revenue opportunity by not monetizing attendee accommodationsManual, spreadsheet-based processes to manage staff travel and expensesFragmented systems to manage room blocks across multiple hotelsDifficulty incentivizing attendees to book with preferred accommodationsIneffective promotion of hotels to event attendeesFragmented package booking reducing customer satisfaction and burdening organizersManual RFP management slowing contracting

By bringing together discounted hotels, exclusive perks like shuttles and seamless group booking features, Crewfare aims to simplify event travel planning for attendees.

For event organizers and hospitality partners, we provide technology to consolidate travel management and capture more customer spend through integrated booking platforms.

So you’ve got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?

Crewfare has already provided event travel for 200,000+ globally, showing product-market fit. Our growth strategy has three aspects:

First, leverage major event partnerships for promotions to mass existing audiences.Second, integrate with leading travel/hospitality platforms to reach their vast customer bases.Third, optimize search and digital marketing to attract high-intent event travelers.

We’ll also incentivize direct booking through exclusive perks. Exceptional service and social features will drive retention. Additionally, we plan to expand our SaaS products that help events monetize travel and manage staff/vendor logistics. Our existing event relationships are ideal for cross-selling these services. With our multi-product approach, Crewfare can become the premier platform for event travelers and organizers globally. Our traction proves we’ve identified an underserved market ripe for disruption.

Tell us what process you’ve gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.

The founding team had firsthand experience of event travel pain points working in hospitality and events. This inspired them to find solutions.We recognized that event travel was an underserved niche, with no tailored booking platforms catering to this use case.The massive growth of the experience economy and live events represented a huge addressable market. Surveys and interviews with travelers and event organizers validated unmet needs around group booking, discounted hotels and travel packages.Crewfare’s rapid early traction showed strong product-market fit. We went from 0 to 200K+ users and 100+ event partners within two years.Reviews and customer feedback have been positive, indicating Crewfare delivers a solution users find valuable.Being profitable and self-funded demonstrates measurable willingness from customers to pay for this offering.

How and when will you make money?

Crewfare has been profitable since day one, an uncommon position for such a young company. We make money in a variety of ways across our products.

READ MORE  Brightline introduces 3 new passes for frequent rail travelers

Our event travel platform generates commissions on hotel bookings, ticketing fees and ancillary sales like merchandise and shuttles. As we scale users and event partners, these transactional revenues add up.Our SaaS products for events monetize through monthly software subscriptions. As we expand our client base, recurring revenues will compound.We aim to achieve over 300% year-over-year revenue growth by end of 2023 by growing both our transactional and SaaS revenues.Our bootstrap approach has allowed us to focus on providing value rather than chasing funding. We plan to continue reinvesting profits to drive innovation and take advantage of our massive market opportunity.

Crewfare’s multi-revenue stream model provides diverse monetization while keeping us laser focused on solving client pain points. Our profitability gives us flexibility to keep enhancing our products for sustainable growth.

What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?

All three founders – Jason van Esso, Jordan Scheffler, and Zach Picon – have strong operational experience, having held executive roles managing multiple hospitality venues, events and startups. This enables them to effectively scale and grow Crewfare.Our complementary skills cover business development, partnerships, marketing, operations and technology. This diverse skill set allows them to build a well-rounded company.We have firsthand experience identifying and tapping into cultural trends to engage millennials and Gen Z. This helps Crewfare resonate with our target demographic.The founders have successfully built audience engagement for major media brands like Morning Brew and Universal Music Group. This ability to attract users is valuable for Crewfare.Our track record producing large-scale events like the Hard Rock Beach Club and Preakness Stakes provides real-world event expertise to solve client needs.All three worked for Miami-based hospitality group Groot Hospitality, showing we can collaborate effectively as a leadership team.The founders are nimble at developing new hospitality and event concepts that generate buzz and engagement. This positions Crewfare to remain innovative.

Overall, the Crewfare founders have well-rounded expertise across travel, events, operations, marketing and technology. Our complementary skill sets and shared experiences allow them to build a disruptive yet executable business model tailored to the next-gen audience. This strong founding team is a key asset for the company.

How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?

Crewfare believes diversity and inclusion are competitive advantages. Our team of about 40 spans a variety of backgrounds, identities and perspectives, with 55% women and 65% from minority groups. We foster openness through bias training, employee resources groups and safe dialog forums. Inclusion initiatives like policy audits aim to empower everyone’s voice and promote equity. By valuing diverse viewpoints, we spark creativity and resilience. For a travel platform serving a wide user base, building a welcoming culture where all our employees thrive helps us build better experiences for all our customers. There’s always progress to be made, but diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our values and vital to our continued growth.

READ MORE  Amex Ventures makes strategic investment in travel risk platform Sensible Weather

What’s been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?

Scaling up rapidly enough to meet intense customer demand has definitely been one of our biggest challenges during Crewfare’s exponential growth. Most startups have the luxury of slowly rolling out their product, gradually building a customer base, ironing out bugs over time. But we experienced lightning-fast product-market fit, immediately onboarding more users than projected. It became a race to expand our capabilities and range exponentially, building up infrastructure and personnel to match our usage spikes. But it’s a good problem to have – we’re thrilled to be disrupting such a ripe industry. 

Generally, travel startups face a tough time making an impact – so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?

Crewfare is poised to defy the odds for travel startups because we’ve identified and deeply understand an underserved niche – event travel. Our laser focus allows us to tailor the platform and experience to this audience’s unique needs. Our founding team’s relevant expertise and the backing of major event partners also give us an advantage. And our rapid growth and profitability demonstrate we’ve struck a chord others overlooked. We’re not trying to be everything for everyone, just the best at solving our users’ specific pain points. This niche advantage makes us confident we can succeed where others struggle.

A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?

A year from now we envision Crewfare becoming the go-to platform for end-to-end event travel. For attendees, we’ll be the first place they book accommodations and logistics when attending major events. For organizers, we’ll be the trusted partner helping them boost revenue and efficiency. We aim to continue scaling our user base globally while expanding into new event verticals beyond music. Widening our product suite will also allow us to monetize more of the event travel life cycle. If we stay focused on customer needs and nimble in our execution, Crewfare can solidify its leadership in the experience economy.

What is your endgame (going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)?

Our priority is to keep building a company we’re proud of and that creates value for customers. If an opportunity like an acquisition or IPO accelerates that mission, we’d consider it. But our end goal isn’t a transaction – it’s to provide the best possible event travel experiences. The market potential in modernizing event operations is massive, so we are excited by the opportunity to disrupt this space. While exits may happen eventually, our focus now is heads down on the product and team to drive sustainable growth. If we succeed at that, the rest will follow.

PhocusWire’s Startup Stage

PhocusWire profiles startups in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top