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Ben covers the property industry and has a keen interest in entrepreneurship and travel writing. He speaks Mandarin and previously covered housing and urban affairs for The Australian Financial Review.

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Flight bookings start-up Adioso lands former Jetstar head of strategy as CEO

Published 16 August 2013 10:05, Updated 17 August 2013 22:22

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Flight bookings start-up Adioso lands former Jetstar head of strategy as CEO

Azim Barodawala says Adioso offered him the most opportunities.

Melbourne flight-booking start-up and Silicon Valley darling Adioso has landed Jetstar’s former strategy number one Azim Barodawala as chief executive, as it prepares to launch a fund-raising round and seek commercial partnerships with major airlines.

Founded by OzEmail co-workers Tom Howard and Fenn Bailey in 2008, Adioso is a travel search engine that allows travellers to conduct free-form searches like “somewhere warm in August under $1000”.

It was accepted into prestigious Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator in 2009 and has since raised around $600,000 in seed funding.

Barodawala left Jetstar earlier this year to spend more time in the United States with his family, after helping to develop the airline’s global strategy of partnering with international carriers. He says it was the excitement promised by investing in and working for a start-up that made him opt for Adioso over a better-paid corporate job.

“When I evaluated my opportunities and thought where could I have the most impact, this is where that is,” Barodawala tells BRW. “It’s sad to say it but I often feel in larger corporations it’s harder to feel like you’re really having an impact, it’s possible to become disengaged and lose motivation.”

For the next six weeks he says he will focus with the founders on improving the user experience of the website and rolling out the next version, aimed predominately at Australian users searching for domestic or international travel.

He will focus on building relationships and partnerships with other travel suppliers, including airlines like his former employer Jetstar.

“Our mission for our company is not just to try to get commissions from airlines – that is a game a lot of people are playing and some playing very well. We want to change the way people search for travel and we also want to make it easier for travellers and travel marketers to build stronger relationships. That’s where I think Jetstar would be interested. This would enable them to build a stronger relationship with their customers.”

He says tourism boards could benefit from partnering with Adioso, which could help them tailor their message by providing them information about where there are pockets of people in the world who are interested in certain Australian locations, how much they want to pay and when they want to come. Sports teams might want to give their fans the ability to find out the cheapest way to get to where the Sydney Swans are playing.

The company isn’t yet profitable and is still largely at a testing stage despite positive feedback from its users.

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