Since its launch in October of 2003, travel search engine Mobissimo.com has created a staunch following of “MobiFans”. With a sweet spot in international travel it has been very successful catering to a niche other travel sites have largely neglected. There are over 300,000 travel properties in the world yet online travel agents (OTAs) focus on approximately 42,000. Aside from re-defining the standards for comprehensive travel search engines, Mobissimo has set new standards for the overal user experience – it’s like having your own personal concierge service. Mobissimo co-founder and CEO Beatrice Tarka takes us through the Mobissimo journey.
SM: Please describe your personal background. What was your family like, your upbringing, and your early career?
BT: I am a would-be astronomer with a math and physics heart. My background is international and eclectic. I’m Italian and Polish by birth and French by citizenship. I grew up in Poland and I learned to speak English reading astronomy books. Technology inspired me at a young age because it is an “enabler” of problem-solving. I credit my entrepreneurial streak and my passion for new technology, especially the Internet, to my multi-cultural upbringing.
My older sister works for a major international airline. As a teenager, even before PCs, I connected travel with technology. My first experience with computers was playing on my sister’s office computer accessing her company’s mainframe. I was running archaic SQL queries to find unpublished fares for the foreign delegations searching for cheap flight combinations, as flights were very expensive at the time.
My first experience with personal computers dates to the first ZX Spectrum where you had to load the operating system via cassette!
Later I graduated from the American University in Paris with a degree in computer science and international business. I earned my MBA on the Belgian campus of Boston University. Before bringing Mobissimo to the U.S., I co-founded two other software companies.
SM: What companies were those?
BT: The first was Axall Media, an entertainment software publisher. The second was France Portage, a press distribution database provider which acquired by France Telecom.
I’m an advisor to Broth and a couple of other Internet startups. My focus is on developing business models, product vision and bringing international companies to the U.S.
For me the process of becoming a technologist was progressive. It evolved from playing with the mainframe to programming, and then on to games. After that it was consumer software and finally the Internet. I have always identified that the computer can solve complex problems much faster. That has been the driver all along.