This site’s readers are well aware of the parade of startups looking to tackle small-market or unmanaged business travel. None has gone quite as niche as Compl.ai. The new firm from Daniel Senyard, formerly of Tripchamp, is aiming to bring a policy tool to small businesses. That’s right, it’s a travel policy startup.
Reminiscent of ProcureApp — which disappeared within Runzheimer — Compl.ai for the moment exists as a gestating extension on the Google Chrome browser. The small piece of software is installed on the browser and watches as travelers shop online for business travel. It guides them on policy, tracks their spending and reports reasons for over-spending.
The platform allows managers to create “lightweight” but customized policies. A gamification component contemplates upgrades and lounge passes for compliant travelers.
Senyard is the latest innovator using software to bring some benefits of managed travel to firms that otherwise have nothing. Although it has accelerated in the past couple years, the trend goes back to 2012 when TripIt first offered a business version for a low monthly fee to departments and work groups.
“We’re not trying to match big online booking tools and expense tools,” said Senyard. “We’re targeting way down-market, more the growing companies. If you look at the evolution of software as a service, it’s a lot less of the top-down mandate. Slack, Trello — these applications are introduced by a department as opposed to a chief operating officer.”
He said the solution could “in theory” work for larger businesses. While he has been researching interest among firms that spend under $1 million on travel, Senyard noted that there are bigger companies with no travel policy.
Compl.ai’s closed beta starts this month with a handful of companies employing people Senyard knows personally. They’ll do some experimentation with its minimum viable product.
The business model is to be determined. The company could seek affiliate fees from travel sites based on directing traffic their way. Senyard knows he does not want to make bookings or charge for transactions.
While he wants to “make our mistakes on one platform,” Senyard said he has an idea for mobile, which offers a bigger challenge to the concept than desktop browsers.
To scale, Senyard faces the same issues innumerable companies have when it comes to getting the brand in front of small and middle-sized prospects. He hinted that he could pursue channel partners in financial or HR circles, like Serko and Fraedom.
Compl.ai received support from startup accelerator Capital Factory.