This week’s roundup looks at startups attempting to create new connections with the help of technology. Those connections include Caribbean businesses and digital trip planners, social enterprises and socially-conscious tourists, and Mexican tour operators and mobile bookers.


>> F1rst is a Yelp for the Caribbean. The company was built in Trinidad and Tobago with the goal of helping visitors discover new local experiences. The website and app has information and reviews on shops, restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues, and more.

SkiftTake: F1rst is putting small business on the digital map for travelers who are accustomed to searching online for travel plans. It has the potential to bring tourism dollars to companies outside of the major resorts and boost local economies while giving travelers a more authentic Caribbean experience.

>> Yucatan GO! is an iPhone app that lets tourists book tours and activities in Cancun and the Riviera Maya on their mobile phones. Users can pay with credit card or paypal, and search for last-minute deals.

SkiftTake: The startup is aiming to take the traditionally offline or desktop tours market to mobile phones. This gives visitors a faster and easier way to book and opens local companies up to more customers.

>> Dubabu is the first dedicated car-pooling platform in the UAE. It facilities carpools between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Users can search for carpooling partners based on their profiles, review drivers based on their punctuality and driving safety, and pay online. A one-time ride costs $9.50 or drivers can set up a monthly plan.

SkiftTake: Carshare startups in the U.S. are focused on short intercity trips, but Dubabu is looking to cut the number of cars on the common hour and a half commute between two cities. Local perceptions on ride-shares will impact the platform’s success, but the platform opens at a good time — even Gulf countries are looking to curb their oil consumption.

>> Valet Up streamlines valet parking by allowing operators to accept credit card payments, track cars, and swap traditional tickets for re-usable QR tags. Operators can also track revenues, team performance, and record pre-existing damage. Valet Up allows customers to text or use an app to request their car, which reduces wait times.

SkiftTake: Valet up is a internal management app that also makes users’ customers happy with a faster, more mobile product. It addresses valet companies’ needs down to the smallest detail making it a powerful tool for improving operations.

>> Authenticitys aims to connect tourists with social enterprises in new cities. Authenticity’s maps and tours point out local, socially-conscious businesses for tourists to visit while boosting these companies’ profits and publicity. The tours give visitors insight into the issues the companies address.

SkiftTake: This startup is similar to any startup connecting travelers and locals around a common interest, but due to the nature of the interest, it has the potential to open up both parties to long-term relationships and business partnerships.

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Tags: caribbean, mexico, skiftseedlings, tours

Photo credit: F1rst is a Yelp for the Caribbean that helps locals and visitors discover new local experiences. F1rst

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