valisa.io – is a mobile travel assistant built by Siarhei Lipchyk and Oleksandr Bystrikov. We are colleagues, close friends, engineers, photo enthusiasts & passionate travelers.
Valisa [vali:za] means a traveling bag, a suitcase in Ukrainian. The word valise is of French and Medieval Latin origin. We chose it due to its symbolism and simplicity.
One sunny day in spring 2018, we had a relaxing lunch discussion on spontaneous budget travel and our struggle to find affordable deals. It turned out both spent hours and even days looking for cheap flights and hotels. Trying to save money, we neglected the most precious resource in our possession – the time. Even though our travel preferences and holiday styles differ, none of the existing tools were optimized to solve our planning problems fast enough.
We quickly realized that we need to address the time, budget, and convenience issues. It's way too hard to compare travel deals of different providers if you are flexible on dates. Having worked for international companies in the EU, US, Belarus & Ukraine, we reached the point of no return and decided to solve the problem we faced so often and knew so well.
Minutes, not hours
As summer 2018 was coming to an end, Siarhei was preparing for a family holiday in Spain. He decided to improve his planning workflow using browser automation software. Oleksandr was also looking for a solution that would complement his specific travel vision "roundtrip within the EU for less than 100€". Without a clear roadmap but ready to disrupt the industry, we immediately set our view on reducing time spent planning the trip from hours to minutes.
The concept was straightforward: find the cheapest days and pick the most suitable flights, preferably direct. Easy! Controlling the browser to fetch the data from your favorite travel website isn't hard unless you have to scale, and we wanted thousands to use it. What followed was quite a journey: long sleepless nights, hackathon-style weekends, a state of flow, frustration, fatigue, and pure joy.
Coding is easy
Things are simple but not in a way we imagine them. We celebrated Christmas, and our browser automation saga continued in 2019. It took us a few months to conclude that our scripts were good to crawl the data for the spreadsheet but not stable enough for production use. That was a moment of re-evaluation and a perfect time to get inspired by new episodes of "How I built this" & "Indie Hackers" podcasts.
Lesson learned. We had to scope down, prioritize, and focus on solving the core time issue. Web-app we built is essentially a fare finder without blows and whistles. Just a few examples: Oleksandr discovered new direct flights from Berlin to Madeira; a year earlier, he had to fly there via Lisbon and Porto. Siarhei's colleague booked a crazy 5€ flight to Italy. Kudos to our dear friends and families whose valuable feedback and support helped us to improve the service.
As of 2020, we are focused on Europe. However, upcoming features will offer better quality broader results and improve user experience. We are looking forward to making valisa.io the best mobile travel assistant. Therefore we'd like to hear back from you: what you enjoy, what's missing or confusing – feel free to contact us.
Last update: 23 May 2020