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Pre-seed funding secured by Ugandan tourism-tech startup Tripesa

In order to find a product-market fit before expanding across the continent, the Ugandan firm Tripesa is in the tourist technology space.

Tripesa was once known as RoundBob, an online travel marketplace that had to shut down after COVID-19 caused the tourist sector to collapse. However, Tripesa emerged from the ashes, creating the infrastructure and logistics to allow businesses in the African travel and experiences sector to conduct online commerce more affordably.

“With Tripesa, a business will get online, sell online, accept payments and manage basic operations,” said David Gonahasa, who co-founded the startup alongside Thomas Karugaba and Raymond Byaruhanga.

“Through the platform as a service solution, businesses can build no-code websites, itineraries, and client proposals, access a multi-currency payment platform to allow them to accept digital payments online including cards and mobile money, and lastly manage basic business operations including bookings and marketing. With continuous development, a business using Tripesa will be able to run most elements of their business in one place.”

The firm has been largely self-funded; however, Eric Osiakwan is an angel investor. In June, however, Future Africa, Consonance Investment Managers, and LTNT Investments provided an unknown sum of pre-seed money. According to Gonahasa, Tripesa will utilize the funds to establish product-market fit.

“Tripesa is currently working on achieving product-market fit in Uganda and Kenya. The choice of these two markets is to try out cross-border functionality as Uganda and Kenya have a lot of cross-border travel with requirements to share information and payments. Post finding product-market fit, Tripesa intends to scale across the African continent,” he said.

Today, Tripesa has over 260 – primarily small – businesses in Uganda and Kenya signed up to the platform, and it continues to see daily growth, with the website construction function attracting the most attention.

“Larger businesses are expressing interest in the business automation and CRM functionality,” Gonahasa said.

“We believe at this point in the business, we are learning from these few customers constantly talking to our users and working our way towards creating a solution that really works for the market.”

This industry has a sizable market. With activities spanning several sub-sectors including tour operators, travel agencies, tour guides, transport firms, souvenir shops and gift shops, museums, events, F&B, and many more, the tourism industry generates US$35 billion for Africa each year and employs over 24 million people.

“Unfortunately, it is difficult for many of these companies to do business online. Websites that work are expensive to build and run, it is difficult to distribute and manage product inventory across many marketplaces, payment systems are complex to integrate, and most operations still run on DM-to-book or call-to-book models. This extends to very limited automation of CRM activity, bookings management and more. Tripesa is building a consolidated solution to fix this at a very low cost,” said Gonahasa.

Subscriptions, which cost $20 per user per month or $80 per user per year, are how Tripesa generates revenue.

“This includes a website, management dashboard, domain name, four free email addresses, and build support. This is much cheaper than the cost of building a website that works. Additional revenues are generated from payments processing, installment payments and payouts management, marketing support, lead generation and more,” said Gonahasa.




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