An open invitation to disrupt the travel scene: why we’re challenging start-ups to Build with Skyscanner

APIs have become the life-blood of the modern Internet; they are powerful tools that open a stream of highly valuable data upon which start-ups can create a working foundation for their new tools.

Skyscanner has committed itself to being as open as possible in providing its travel APIs to start-ups and new businesses. We want to make our data, which has taken years to build into a comprehensive and cutting-edge travel search engine, available to others as they start on their own mission to bring something new to the game.

Any why, you might ask, would we want to do that?

Because we believe complex problems – problems that have yet to be solved – live in travel. And there is still room for newcomers to provide answers to them.

That’s why we’ve launched a competition encouraging developers and start-ups to take on that challenge and build disruptive products with our travel APIs.

We’re inviting all developers and start-ups to join the challenge by entering ourBuild with Skyscanner competition. Participants have four months to build the next big thing in travel. 

The winner, who has built the most promising and innovative new product, will win a week working in Skyscanner’s HQ, coaching by our very own founder and CEO Gareth and a £1000 cash prize. We think that’s a pretty nice way to kick-start your new business idea. 

We pride ourselves on our strong support for start-ups, having already partnered with a number of promising new players who have gone on to do great things by using Skyscanner’s travel technology to power their travel search.

LuckyTrip, who power their flight search using Skyscanner’s inspirational Browse API, were named as ones of iTunes ‘Top Apps for 2015’.  US-based app Hitlist, who power their price alerts via the Skyscanner technology, have had 400,000 downloads of their app. Meekan, the start-up scheduling engine, who built and launched a Facebook Messenger robot using Skyscanner’s data, have already built travel search chat bots for both Slack and HipChat using the technology.

There are still boundless possibilities and different ways to tackle unsolved traveller problems that you might consider if you choose to build with our technology. Here are a few different angles you could think about:

Discovery Products

A traveller knows their destination, but is constrained by:

  • A. Time: you have specific dates when you need to be or can be there
  • B. Money: you have a certain budget that constrains your options


A harder use case is the case of inspiration. That’s typically driven by the fact that a potential traveller doesn’t know whether they want to go. Instead of telling me that I need $1,000 for a round-trip to Paris and $2,500 for Dubai, I need a relevant glance at where $400 can get me.While travel search sites often use maps with points or lists of destinations and prices, you might consider how to solve this problem with imagery and videos, or even tinder-esque swiping.

The Netflix Problem in Travel

You don’t know your destination and you don’t have any constraints.

Finally, the hardest problem to solve is potentially the Netflix equivalent in Travel — I have been to XXX number of places and now I’d like to know where to go next. Similar to ‘People who have watched this movie also liked XYZ’, the Netflix problem in travel can only be based on historical extrapolation of personal travel + the wisdom of the crowd.

For example, I’ve been to New York, but I have also been to London and London might not necessarily be a choice that interests me again. Hence, it should be removed from the list. At the same time, I might have liked it so much that I’d love to visit again — in which case, it should be part of the list. A really hard one to solve.

I am yet to see a good, even a basic solution in travel that touches upon solving the specific case where the destination is unknown and the constraints do not exist.


All in all, there are endless product problems that need to be solved in travel and the opportunities are unlimited, especially in a mobile world. Go solve them by Building with Skyscanner.