How Trippeo Plans to Simplify Business Travel

The Vancouver-based app currently offers an expense tracking and reimbursement system, with more features to come

Written by Joe Castaldo

Trippeo wants to be the only app business travellers need to manage their away-from-home spending. Vancouver-based Trippeo automatically tracks expenses, itemizes them, and allows companies to reimburse employees directly within 24 hours.

Cofounder and CEO Adarsh Pallian, a former Hootsuite employee, explains why the company’s ambitions extend far beyond expenses. How did you decide to pursue this?

Adarsh Pallian: As an entrepreneur, I travelled a lot. I still do. And it was always a pain. Even to this day, Hootsuite, a company that large, doesn’t have a really solid expense management solution. I just saw an opportunity for companies of a certain size. Some companies still use spreadsheets, and it’s baffling. We wanted to build a solution that gave them no excuse to open up a spreadsheet. But also, how do you close the loop on the travel side of things? Most of the companies we talked to, including Hootsuite, have two separate solutions: one for travel and one for expenses. There’s nothing that ties them together to make employees’ lives easier.

So how do you do that?

We sync to your travel calendar, connect to your debit or credit card, and we’ll track every single transaction that happens during that trip. We look for transactions like a cab or an Uber, even if it falls on the day of, so we don’t miss your cab to the airport, for example. If you’ve taken a photo of a receipt, we map that photo to a credit card transaction that you already have. When you come back, you get an itemized email for you to submit to your company. As soon as the manager approves it, we take the money out of the company’s account, and put it on to the employee’s debit or credit card.

What shortcomings did you see with the existing players?

The biggest competitor is Concur, but it’s not practical unless you’re a Fortune 500 company. They have products for small- and medium-sized business, but they’re not really affordable—or it doesn’t come off as affordable—for the masses. There were companies like Expensify going after SMBs, but at the time, their product was surprisingly minimal.

But that was then, and there are now other competitors going after the same market. What’s your plan to get more customers?

Our whole thing is product. We have to have a really solid product that stands on its own. Then people start talking. This is already happening now, but once company CEOs like us, they email a few friends, and we get more deals. If you’re building software today, you can’t have a product that sucks. So our strategy revolves around the product. Let it speak for itself.

Do you want to get bigger companies as clients eventually?

Our goal is to go upstream. In five years, I want to go after Concur’s customers, but at the same time, have a really affordable and easy product for companies with 10 or employees to access. It’s sort of like Slack’s model: there are companies with 10,000 employees using it, and companies like us. Very few people have built solutions like that. Usually companies that go after the big clients make tools that aren’t accessible to smaller ones. We want to make sure we don’t fall into that trap.

What other features are you developing?

The biggest thing is emphasizing the travel component, not just expenses. We’re going to launch flight tracking in September, so you can see the flight path and we’ll give you flight delay notifications, gate changes, and so on. And later this year, we will launch our own flight booking platform as well.

Sounds like there’s a lot in development. Is there a danger of doing too much at once?

There is. But this flight feature we’re launching, we built it about a year ago, but we didn’t launch it because we didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We stuck with expenses first, because it’s easier to manage right now. When we launch flight booking, it will be solid and not half-baked.

What do you think of Pallian’s plans for Trippeo? Share your (constructive) thoughts and feedback in the comments below.


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