Written by Madison Seeman
Ryan McElroy’s contagious motto “rise and grind” motivates him not only to run one of the fastest growing travel technology companies, but also to wake up every morning at the crack of dawn—4:45am. Ryan tries to “ stretch his time “ recently to complement the travel tech company he recently added many web properties to his portfolio including, funadvice.com, convertingonline.com, and weddingbook.com. However, his most anticipated project to date is The Travel Valet, which debuts May 1st 2014. This mobile application will change the way a consumer interacts with travel professionals and make browsing, researching and booking travel a breeze. The Travel Valet acts as a virtual travel concierge bringing travel information directly to the customer via their travel agent and or our proprietary travel info indexing system. What’s the cheapest flight to Hong Kong? What is the best cruise line for your dream trip to Alaska? The Travel Valet will answer all your questions and send the information right back to your smartphone. “ Quite simply says Ryan “ We saw a shift in consumer behavior. More and more travellers are consuming and booking travel content on mobile devices. Mobile is the future of travel distribution and The Travel Valet is ready to take flight
Ryan was exposed to the travel industry while working as a bartender at the Toronto International Airport during college and University. It was a great position, as the multiple layovers would attract not only generous tips, but also interesting people from all over the world. This is where his first entrepreneurial venture began; Ryan used his bartending monies to invest in a condo with a friend and became a landlord for the first time. That experience was so exciting, I was able to see the fruits of my labor and the experience has stuck with me all these years later says Ryan.
After moving on from the condo, Ryan calls himself a “want-trepreneur” as he then progressed through many different sectors. This included student rentals in London, exporting beer from India to Australia among other initiatives. I think it is safe to say Ryan has been around the entrepreneurial block a few times. He says, “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit within me”.
The determination and spirit that Ryan had bloomed when he travelled to Miami, Florida for a marathon he had been training for. There is where he met his now partner, Ericson Smith. “When looking for a co-founder, I think it’s important to be total opposites but share the same vision” says Ryan. “You need world class people who have totally different skill sets”, this is what makes Ryan and Ericson such a great team. Once the pair decided to partner they worked together and created a digital marketing platform for traditional travel companies called Travel agency Tribes, which recently expanded into South East Asia and boasts some of the worlds biggest travel brands as customers “ But what I am really excited about is the impact The Travel Valet will have on one of the largest industries on earth. “ This is the culmination of 3 years of hard work and delivery on the vision we have always had. The Travel Valet, is off to a good start says Ryan with 1162 customers already waiting to take the Travel Valet for a test drive.
As Ryan looks back, he compiled 4 reasons why he wanted to be an entrepreneur: Too have a positive impact on an industry, to achieve personal balance, financial freedom and finally, personal growth. Ryan notes that it took a long time to get the company going, and smiles as he remembers having to circle back to a bartending position in the early days in order to support his entrepreneurial dream. Ryan learned perseverance and work ethic through these experiences and he now says; You don’t get many pats on the back as an entrepreneur, but you do get some benefits, lets just say I don’t have to wait till Friday at 5 to go to the cottage”.
When asked what advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, he reverts back to what one of his old bosses told him, “Positive things happen to positive thinkers”. Ryan says that you need to keep your eye on where you’re headed, and look for the right industry to disrupt. He also states, “there is never going to be a perfect time to start”, you will have to make sacrifices and take risks. Ryan shared a recent statistic and found it encouraging that “75% of North American’s want to start a business once in their lifetime”. The downside of the stat was only 5% do. “Its takes guts to go out and start a business says Ryan but the upside once you’re successful is worth it.
Click Here for more information on The Travel Valet.