Startup Outski wants you to save up for vacation with a 401(play)
If a social media site, a travel site and an online banking site were all put into a blender, the outcome might be Outski.
Like most travel websites, Tucson-based Outski users can search and book flights and hotels through the site, but it adds a social element to it, where vacation plans can be shared with friends and family. It allows people to discuss vacation ideas online and share links and thoughts.
The other thing that sets Outski apart from other travel sites is its “vacation savings accounts.” Outski allows people to set up savings accounts on the website so they can save for their trips directly with Outski. Customers can also set up a “401(play),” which will deposit a percentage of each paycheck into an Outski account. They can also add to the account through their own credit and savings accounts or through PayPal. Users can send and request money from each other and have the ability to withdraw the funds at anytime.
Greg Nickolson, Outski president, said the financial aspects of the website is what makes Outski really different. The company partnered with Sutton Bank to start the vacation savings accounts and that is where users’ money will be held. The money will be accessible through an Outski Visa or Discover Travel Savings Card, which has a PIN and works like any other debit or credit card. There is only a $4.95 activation fee for a vacation savings account. “It was very important for us to eliminate a monthly fee,” Nickolson said.
Making the savings account a part of Outski was not easy and it caused Nickolson to change his original idea a few times. He said being able to adapt is important to the success of Outski.
“We think we know the answers, then the next day they change,” Nickolson said. “We have to be quick.” The online, social and financial aspects of Outski make it necessary to change with new trends and regulations.
Outski has partnered with 14 different companies and all of those companies are integrated into the website. Most of the partnerships deal with financial elements of the site, but there are also companies like Expedia and Amazon.
The company launched its beta web product this winter and started its marketing strategy the first week of March. Nickolson said there are already over 1,000 users. iPhone and Android apps are in the works and Nickolson is planning on coming out of beta and launching at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 in New York City.