Friday, October 2, 2015

ZesTrip raises €100k in seed funding

Milan, October 1, 2015 - After having helped Italian and foreign tourists facing the Milan Expo, ZesTrip is now preparing for the Jubilee, the event that will bring 33 million tourists and pilgrims in Rome. Now close to covering the whole Italian territory, it prepares to land abroad in the major European capitals. The combination of sharing economy coupled with the social inclination of the platform, which connects the locals with travelers, has also convinced a group of Angel Investors led by Stefano Calderano, currently CEO of JUSP (one of the few Italian startup that has received a venture capital financing with six zeros - read here), to invest over one hundred thousand Euros in the project.

The startup, incubated by PoliHub of the Polytechnic University of Milan, was born earlier this year by the idea of ​​Italian guys under30, Michele Arisi, Andrea Pasino and Carlo Vezzoni, friends since long time and flatmates in Milan, with a passion for travel, as well as sharing and innovation. An idea born from a personal experience. Indeed, the ZesTrip's founders had been traveling, backpacks on their shoulders, for almost two months in Southeast Asia through Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once in Luangprabang, the capital of Laos at the time of French colonialism, they had a dinner invitation from the owner of their B&B where he introduced them to Vong. Vong, was a 30 year old Laotian and one of the few who spoke Inglese. He was smiling and excited for the chance to meet his Western peers. The connection was immediate, and by the time of dessert, they were Already planning to hike for the days to come.

The next morning, Vong had procured mountain bikes for them and they rode towards the rice fields surrounding the city. After leaving the bikes at the starting point of their walking path, they began to hike up the steep edges of the fields. After a few hours the arrived at "Rice Spoon", a village of about 20 families of farmers near the top of the mountain, and Vong's native home. The "mayor" of the city, the only person to have a brick house and a generator for electricity, greeted them with a handshake and a smile. Their accommodation was the most humble straw hut and became their base for the next two days of hiking and relaxing.
The meals with Vong's family, the warmhearted welcome from the locals and the chance to get off the route of mass tourism for a few days are still the most vivid memories of my entire trip to Asia. "

From Andrea's story and his two friends and co-founder's similar experiences, ZesTrip was born. They wanted to create a network of Locals, native people willing to provide Their expertise and knowledge of the territory to traveler's from all over the world.

The founders believe that the most genuine way to get in touch with the culture of a country is to know the people who live there. Because of this, they believe that connections with Locals are the only way that Travelers can return home with memories of unforgettable experiences.

Thery are strong supporters of the economic revolution of the twenty-first century, the idea of ​​the Sharing Economy, and they want to contribute to its development in the travel sector. ZesTrip believes in the idea that you no longer have to rely on major tour operators, often foreign ones, to ensure you'll have a beautiful holiday. By connecting with local people, you can find a professional, or simply an aficionado, in every area and take part in an authentic experience.

So they looked around and focused on the country they know best - Italy! They noticed that there is no easy way for travelers heading to Italy to get in touch with Italians. So they decided to do their part and start a project that would allow travelers to experience Italy in an authentic way, and provide Locals with new job opportunities.

With ZesTrip, the three founders want to offer a new way of understanding the Italian culture. In Italy, many professionals are waiting for the opportunity to share their passion and experience with the world. They wanted to turn to the locals and create a market place for these experiential activities of every kind, from trekking enthusiasts, to chefs, to designers, artisans, architects, photographers as well as art and music enthusiasts.

You can have a vegetarian brunch in the Tuscan countryside, social eating with a 'cuciniera narrator' in Palermo, a shopping trip among the handcrafted jewelry of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Raku pottery classes in the gardens of the Elba Island, futurist aperitifs in Milan, urban trekking in Rome, up to the birdwatching in the heart of the Nuraghic civilization, in Oristano (Sardinia). Not forgetting the classic visit to the artistic and cultural Italian beauties, but with something extra passion of a local that tourists will choose after studying his profile and read the thoughts of previous travelers, without the filter of travel agencies or tour operators.

On the other side, the platform is rather a job opportunity for freelance professionals who want to provide their skills: they can target tourists directly, without intermediaries and promoting their activities around the world, using the latest potentials of the social revolution. In addition to your own schedule, you can speak about city through the Zestrip blog, and be contacted by travelers via chat to build a completely customized experience.

"With this investment our project takes on a new, more encompassing step: we have the opportunity not only to consolidate our idea of ​​social tourism in Italy, but also to lean out over Europe - said Michele Arisi - ZesTrip CEO -. It is absurd that Italy, the country with the largest number of UNESCO heritage, is only the fifth tourist destination in the world: we would like to contribute to innovate the way we Italians think of our country and to travels, thanks to the passion and expertise of locals we select. And export all the qualities of Italian hospitality, sharing of experiences and 'friendly way of life' even in foreign tourism. The path is still long, but we go racing and we are growing fast! ".

What ZesTrip?
Zest is an English word which means great enthusiasm and energy, but also citrus peel. As a great chef adds lemon zest to a good meal, to make it a real experience for the palate, in the same way a traveler becoming part of the Zestrip community can find the missing flavor to the adventure. Just choose one of the proposed activities on the online platform, in the company of engaging locals wishing to share their passion and expertise. Hiking enthusiasts, chefs, designers, craftsmen, architects, photographers, art or music experts, but always with a strong attachment to the land and the desire to lead others into unforgettable experiences, they are available to travelers from around the world .

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