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

Her third startup centered on domestic and lower charge airline material

Sometime 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 varied in accordance to the interpretations of the diverse artists.

“It produced me realise that all people sees the world in a unique way and
I imagined why just can’t travellers have their very own working experience, their individual Atlas of
journey,” said the travel tech entrepreneur.

Li, nonetheless, experienced a extra precise marketplace in intellect – low expense and domestic airline articles, and empower travellers to obtain flights the way, say, a girl stores for clothing. “We obtain according to our body sizing, condition and our tastes,” she mentioned. “Why just cannot purchasing flights be the similar way, be as particular, be as quick?”

Mary Li: “We buy in accordance to our entire body measurement, condition and our preferences. Why just can’t buying flights be the similar way, be as particular, be as uncomplicated?”

On September 15 that yr she established up The Atlas in Singapore, described as “a international airfare aggregator, providing special articles from lower-value carriers and domestic airlines”.

I know, I can almost hear
eyes roll between flight veterans who know how challenging and cumbersome flights
is, and them indicating, “here will come an additional startup hoping to clear up it”.

In Episode 5 of the WiT Travel
Roadshow, Mathias Hedlund,
CEO of Etraveli Team, when requested, what was the one particular factor he’d like to correct
about flights, stated, “I however believe that we all ought to be a little bit ashamed that
it is so tough to reserve. The complete economics about flights can make us and
other folks develop scheduling paths that are not consumer friendly, to be frank,
for the reason that if you make them much too customer friendly, you simply cannot compete on price tag.”

He more reported it is been appealing to see newcomers come into the field, considering they can fix it and then obtaining discovered much more, realise how complicated it is.

Classes from her early adventures in flights

Li is aware of the scepticism that surrounds her most current startup but she is made use of to defying critics. The Atlas is her 3rd flight startup. Her initial was Wingon Vacation in China but her breakthrough arrived with ASLAN, which she started in 2005, and grew it from a 40-particular person offline vacation agency into the largest B2B air ticfierket system in China. In 2014, ASLAN was obtained by Alitrip, now Fliggy, where she stayed for two several years heading Fliggy air tickets.

(You can see a widespread thread
coming by in how Li names her businesses – Aslan is, of class, the title of
the lion in CS Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” tale.)

She then took a two-year split to travel the earth. Her path then crossed with Rajeev Kumar, founder of Mystifly, the India-dependent world-wide flight platform, and she joined the enterprise as co-CEO, based in Bangalore.

That interval was the most rigorous finding out time, operating in a different nation, immersed in a further society. “India completely altered me, the people today, the faith, the culture,” she explained. “When I remaining, the group gave me so several presents – items that probably expense them much more than a month’s income. I was so moved.”

With The Atlas, she’s assembled a seasoned staff of 20 people, who are spread out all about the planet. Headquarters is in Singapore, the place Li at present resides, whilst item tech is in Hangzhou, China. There’s a New Zealand entity, with Brian Staunton who oversees marketing and brand name approach.

“We want to be diversified.
I am not excellent at controlling a varied tradition track record – that’s a lesson from
India – so it is great for the staff to be divided. The English-speaking crew
studies to Brian while the Chinese-speaking staff experiences to me.”

Li has preferred to concentrate on
the reduced price tag and domestic airline written content because, in accordance to her, it
signifies 40% of whole flight capability and is the most fragmented piece of
flights. “People require a new air ticketing notion. We want to permit individuals to
purchase a ticket in accordance to their demands by providing an conclusion-to-conclude solution, from
data to transaction to settlement,” she reported.

In her time at Alitrip she noticed how critical the payment piece was to e-commerce. “I could see the backlink in between journey and payments, but it was not becoming tackled. Now we are looking at so a great deal innovation in payments in China and we are tapping into the knowledge in this discipline, to link it to what we are setting up.”

When she began The Atlas she also imagined it would emphasis on the Asia Pacific region but considering that doing the job on the product and feeling out the market place, it is observing desire in Europe and the US as properly, which is why as significantly as Li is worried, she could get the job done from wherever. “Right now, I am in Singapore but I could run the business from wherever.”

Li states the pandemic has
liberated thinking of business owners like her. “It’s manufactured us imagine so
differently about how things can be performed, how organizations can be built and how
customers will think differently about how they want to obtain journey.”

The pandemic has also established
to be the greatest time to build a flight business. With not a lot traveling occurring
for most of 2020 and it remaining flat this yr, particularly in Asia Pacific,
Li and her staff have experienced time constructing and producing a powerful product or service.
Self-funded, it’s also uncovered a major trader this calendar year despite the fact that Li declined to
disclose the identification for now apart from to say, “it’s a major tech company”.

There is yet another art tale embedded in The Atlas. Suitable just after she observed the exhibition of South-east Asian artwork Li study the e book “Atlas” by the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges. “In that ebook, although he was likely blind, he explained what he observed in poems and pictures. He poured so a lot adore into the reserve. I want to place that kind of appreciate into the firm.”

Notice: Mary Li will be talking at WiT Practical experience Singapore, Oct 19-20.