Concept: Handprint's first product, TravelSmart, is a rental smartphone delivered directly to the visitor’s hotel upon arrival in the United States. With TravelSmart, visitors get unlimited data, calls, texts and international calls to many destinations, at a fraction of the price of roaming with their own phones. Through its marketing analytics platform, Guidelight, Handprint collects aggregate non-identifying data about international travelers from its TravelSmart network and other resources to help local businesses better understand this demographic that spends over $150 billion every year in the U.S.
Story: Handprint’s founders met at an international high school 20 years ago in Spain. As avid travelers, all growing up in different countries, they united to solve a real problem for travelers: connectivity. Offering smart phones with relevant content allows travelers to plug into the local ecosystem and take advantage of all the services, amenities and information that would otherwise mainly be accessible to locals.
“Since we launched the service in 2013, we have put phones into thousands of travelers’ hands,” said Andre do Valle, co-founder and president. “These connected travelers are able to make smarter decisions by being able to get better data and information. In turn our advanced data-capture and analytics tools combine to give marketers and visitor bureaus looking to reach these visitors unprecedented insights, guiding their spending decisions and illuminating this previously disconnected demographic. Destinations that better understand their visitors will be able to provide improved services and experiences and offer more attractive discounts and incentives.”
The company works at the shared workspace Pipeline Brickell, where the team has benefited from the interaction with other startups and professionals that have led to new connections and prospective partners and users.
Founded: In 2012.
Management team: Andre do Valle, president; Andrew Cordery, head of product; Jonathan Harlap, chief technology officer.
Number of employees: Six.
Financing: $300,000 in seed financing
Recent milestones reached: Signed as pilot partners the shopping complex Aventura Mall, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Florida, national retailer Macy’s, and a major theme park in Orlando. Established a partnership with the top five tour operators in Brazil as distribution partners to reach Brazilian travelers visiting the United States. Launched a “$45 for 15 days" promotion, which includes unlimited local and international calls, unlimited data on the phone, 2GB of Tethering data, and free delivery and return of the phone anywhere in the U.S. Recognized as one of the top three “Hottest Media Startups” for Media Sparks at The Festival of Media LatAm held in October in Miami Beach.
Biggest startup challenge: Since Handprint is the first company to market in this product category, identifying the right partners and investors is a challenge that Handprint is working to overcome by educating and training.
Next step: In the first quarter of 2015, Handprint will launch its first report that will focus on the demographics of Brazilian travelers. “We will share insights from the report with the hospitality, retail and real estate industries in South Florida to promote this piece of research and will also make it available on the Internet at: www.guidelight.io,” do Valle said.
Advisor’s view: Christian Behn, CFO of Siine and board member of Handprint, said, “Having worked with multiple startups, I was attracted to Handprint’s business model that combined a highly scalable solution with a quick time to market. I think the Handprint team has done an exceptional job of identifying the target customer and the best distribution channels to reach them. Without an existing brand presence or distribution network, Handprint has implemented a value sharing model to convince and align with partners to get its product in the hands of travelers. ... I am very excited and pleased to be a part of a company that is really bringing a superior mobile connected experience to tourists and travelers and that through the Handprint solution literally puts a new, digital channel directly in the hands of these visitors to connect them with the best products and services during their trip.”