Kayak Cofounder Paul English Is Introducing His New Venture, Lola
Kayak.com cofounder and former CTO Paul English announced the name of his new venture on Wednesday evening, which has been in stealth mode for months.
It’s a company called Lola that will integrate travel agents with a smartphone app. Before announcing Lola—the name is a portmanteau of the words longitude and latitude—English had been working on what is formerly known as Blade Travel, a travel startup incubator of sorts in Fort Point. Blade Travel switched gears to focusing on a single project, Lola, in July.
While most of the details about Lola aren’t yet being released, the native Bostonian has been conducting research for the venture by working as an Uber driver. He’s been driving his Tesla Model S P85 around Boston since October. He said he wanted to know what it felt like to be rated by a consumer.
“I tried to figure out how much I could engage passengers and what topics I should talk to them about,” English told Boston.
He said Lola will incorporate voice and text into its mobile application, explaining that bringing humans back into the equation—travel agents, in this case—is important.
“When we’re thinking about our app, as our travel agents talk back through the app to the travelers, should they try to be funny? What does funny mean? Funny means different things to different people,” he said. “So how do our travel agents create a connection to the people they’re talking with? And for me, it just made me realize that you can’t have one style.”
English hosted a panel discussion at Blade’s headquarters before making his announcement, including three Boston-based travel startups, Freebird, Fuzzy Compass, and Wellobox. He told Boston he’d like to see the city become a hub for innovation in travel.
“I’d love to see 20 startups a year in Boston just doing travel,” he said.
Lola’s business model and its branding are to be determined, but its website is live at lolatravel.com.