St. Pete startup helps group travelers plan, pay for trips

Chase Harris is poised to profit from a post-COVID travel surge. 

A Sarasota native who relocated to St. Petersburg three years ago, Harris has co-founded a company designed to simplify traveling with family and friends. Or any group.

“People are going to get back out there,” he says. “We’re going to be able to help them.”

While working in real estate, Harris got the idea for Takeoff when he saw how difficult it was to split the tab after participating in nine bachelor parties. Planning was “a headache,” he says, “especially in a city you are not familiar with.”

So he co-founded Takeoff, which opened last Thursday, with Dillon Auxier.

“It’s a one stop shop where the group can communicate ... and pre-pay,” Harris explains.

Unlike booking sites, Takoff focuses on itineraries, allowing for trip organizers to arrange for higher priced items ahead of time and have each participant pay their share. 

Takeoff works with travel concierges, digitizing their offerings so travelers can choose from outings included in the Takeoff app, or request a custom offering. The app works on IOS (Apple) and Android cellphones. 

“We’re just really trying to bring this archaic industry of the concierge ... to the public.” he explains.

There are no fees for users; Takeoff earns revenues through concierge partner agreements.

The business rolled out with two destinations: Miami and Las Vegas, both regarded as top destinations for bachelor and bachelorette parties.

“We’re cutting our teeth with the giants,” he quips, adding they plan to expand to other cities as they are able.

Though Harris got the idea through his negative experiences with bachelor parties, the app serves travelers from a wide variety of backgrounds.

“We’re going to shoot for everybody,” he says.
 
Harris got things rolling with $50,000 of his own money. He’s completing a $500,000 pre-seed round of funding, with an eye on a seed fund round for $2-$2.5 million in mid-March.

The staff of seven, which includes two developers, currently is working remotely.
 

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune