How Mary Li wants to build The Atlas to change the way people buy flights

Her third startup concentrated on domestic and minimal price tag airline content

Someday in 2019, Mary Li was at an exhibition of South-east Asian art at the Nationwide Gallery Singapore when she realised that maps depicting the region in the 18th and 19th generations assorted in accordance to the interpretations of the unique artists.

“It designed me realise that everybody sees the globe in a distinctive way and
I believed why just cannot travellers have their individual knowledge, their own Atlas of
travel,” claimed the travel tech entrepreneur.

Li, nonetheless, experienced a far more unique market in intellect – lower charge and domestic airline material, and enable travellers to purchase flights the way, say, a female retailers for garments. “We obtain in accordance to our system dimension, form and our tastes,” she reported. “Why just can’t acquiring flights be the same way, be as own, be as straightforward?”

Mary Li: “We obtain in accordance to our physique sizing, form and our tastes. Why can not shopping for flights be the very same way, be as personalized, be as uncomplicated?”

On September 15 that calendar year she established up The Atlas in Singapore, explained as “a world airfare aggregator, providing unique material from very low-charge carriers and domestic airlines”.

I know, I can practically listen to
eyes roll among flight veterans who know how challenging and cumbersome flights
is, and them saying, “here arrives another startup hoping to solve it”.

In Episode 5 of the WiT Vacation
Roadshow, Mathias Hedlund,
CEO of Etraveli Group, when requested, what was the one thing he’d like to deal with
about flights, claimed, “I nonetheless feel that we all must be a bit ashamed that
it is so hard to e-book. The whole economics about flights would make us and
other individuals develop reserving paths that are not shopper friendly, to be frank,
due to the fact if you make them too consumer friendly, you are unable to contend on price.”

He even further explained it’s been attention-grabbing to see newcomers come into the marketplace, imagining they can resolve it and then possessing realized more, realise how complicated it is.

Classes from her early adventures in flights

Li is aware of the scepticism that surrounds her most up-to-date startup but she is utilized to defying critics. The Atlas is her 3rd flight startup. Her very first was Wingon Journey in China but her breakthrough arrived with ASLAN, which she established in 2005, and grew it from a 40-man or woman offline vacation agency into the largest B2B air ticfierket system in China. In 2014, ASLAN was obtained by Alitrip, now Fliggy, the place she stayed for two years heading Fliggy air tickets.

(You can see a frequent thread
coming via in how Li names her companies – Aslan is, of program, the name of
the lion in CS Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” tale.)

She then took a two-year crack to travel the planet. When on a yoga retreat in Bangalore she met Rajeev Kumar, founder of Mystifly, the India-primarily based international flight platform, and she joined the corporation as co-CEO.

That period was the most powerful learning time, doing work in yet another nation, immersed in another society. “India totally adjusted me, the men and women, the faith, the tradition,” she mentioned. “When I left, the workforce gave me so a lot of items – presents that almost certainly price tag them much more than a month’s wage. I was so moved.”

With The Atlas, she’s assembled a seasoned workforce of 20 persons, who are unfold out all around the environment. Headquarters is in Singapore, where by Li at this time resides, whilst products tech is in Hangzhou, China. There is a New Zealand entity, with Brian Staunton who oversees marketing and model system.

“We want to be diversified.
I am not very good at controlling a various lifestyle history – that’s a lesson from
India – so it is good for the crew to be divided. The English-talking staff
reports to Brian even though the Chinese-speaking crew stories to me.”

Li has picked to focus on
the small price and domestic airline written content for the reason that, in accordance to her, it
signifies 40% of total flight capacity and is the most fragmented piece of
flights. “People have to have a new air ticketing thought. We want to help persons to
get a ticket in accordance to their desires by supplying an end-to-conclusion resolution, from
information to transaction to settlement,” she reported.

In her time at Alitrip she observed how critical the payment piece was to e-commerce. “I could see the url amongst travel and payments, but it wasn’t currently being tackled. Now we are observing so significantly innovation in payments in China and we are tapping into the skills in this area, to connection it to what we are making.”

When she started The Atlas she also thought it would target on the Asia Pacific area but since doing work on the item and emotion out the industry, it is looking at desire in Europe and the US as well, which is why as much as Li is concerned, she could work from anywhere. “Right now, I am in Singapore but I could run the business from anywhere.”

Li suggests the pandemic has
liberated considering of business people like her. “It’s designed us believe so
in different ways about how items can be finished, how corporations can be developed and how
buyers will believe in a different way about how they want to get vacation.”

The pandemic has also tested
to be the finest time to construct a flight business. With not a lot traveling taking place
for most of 2020 and it remaining flat this year, particularly in Asia Pacific,
Li and her group have had time setting up and building a powerful solution.
Self-funded, it’s also discovered a significant investor this 12 months although Li declined to
disclose the id for now besides to say, “it’s a major tech company”.

There is one more artwork story embedded in The Atlas. Proper right after she saw the exhibition of South-east Asian art Li read through the e-book “Atlas” by the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges. “In that reserve, whilst he was going blind, he described what he observed in poems and pictures. He poured so considerably love into the reserve. I want to put that type of adore into the company.”

Take note: Mary Li will be talking at WiT Encounter Singapore, Oct 19-20.

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