Although it might seem long ago, there was a time where business traveling was much more common, and companies had to choose the best place for these business meetings.
Launch Chapel Hill cohort startup nXus Software began to address that need.
Founder Fares Khalidi had spent time in corporate America in financial planning and analysis. Looking at how people plan their corporate travel meetings, he asked himself, wasn’t there a better way to make those decisions? His startup nXus aimed to facilitate and increase the productivity of the executive administrators with the meeting scheduling tasks, while decreasing costs.
Founded in 2016, nXus could show users where the lowest-cost places to meet were and compare with other destinations, saving time and money. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and nXus had to pivot.
“We had customers,” Khalidi said. “We had an investor coming on board. When COVID hit, well, everybody went away. So we’ve had to think about this a little bit more and see, how do we apply what we have to something else that might come back a little bit sooner that would be more useful? And what we found is that people still want to travel, even within the leisure market. You know, the trips aren’t as big. They’re not as far, but people still want to get together.”
Looking at family and friend groups, Khalidi wanted to help increase the communication and planning efficiency for leisure travel in a similar way to nXus’s initial corporate version.
While Khalidi said he hopes to eventually offer both the leisure and corporate travel components to nXus software, he doesn’t see corporate travel picking up for a while.
In nXus’ new iteration, users can invite others to join in the planning process for a trip and see the real time cost of different destinations along with real time communication with others in their group on the platform.
Khalidi said the startup is working with centroid technology to find central points between travelers and pick up places of interest within those areas.
“There’s really an issue with transparency within travel,” Khalidi said. “People don’t really know what their options are or can be. They can only think about what they think about. And our goal is to take things beyond that.”
nXus is looking to bring on beta users and investors moving forward with the pivot they’ve created after the bad luck of Covid-19 shut them down on the runway.
Khalidi said Launch Chapel hill has helped both push nXus forward as a business as well as rein the business in after Covid-19.
“This pivot is a very big change for us,” Khalidi said. “We’d gotten way too close to what our solution and our software did in the corporate side. So it’s been really hard to take that step back, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re taking our time on building that MVP because we need to create that distance and get that advice from other people.”
Pivoting into leisure travel is something Khalidi wants to do very carefully, ensuring the platform is made how users will like.
“We’re trying to make sure that the path is right because it’s very easy to go very wrong in leisure very quickly,” Khalidi said, adding that it’s an expensive space with many competitors.
“We want to make sure going in that we have a differentiated product in its niche that provides value above and beyond what you currently can find in the market, makes your life easier and creates a way to share experiences, because that’s what travel has become. It’s an experience, and it’s an experience together when you’re in a group.