Chaddah and Patel both immigrated to this country in the mid-1990s. “I thought I would go to the U.S. and start something,” Patel says. “It’s how I was raised. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I believed that everybody comes here to make their dream happen.” Chaddah’s American dream took him to Dallas, Texas, where he earned his master’s degree in computer science. Neither had a clear vision of the future or much of anything to build on. “We both came here with very limited means,” Chaddah recalls. What they lacked in finances, however, they made up for with gumption.
Around 1997, Patel became one of the first people to start a hotel booking engine for local online reservations. A brilliant idea, but one a little ahead of its time. “The internet was still very new,” Patel remembers. “Hotel booking was not even part of the web structure back then. Neither was search engine marketing (SEM) for that matter.”
Patel’s original model consisted of selling software to individual hotels, which would use it on their websites so consumers could book a reservation. A low subscription cost of $100 per month combined with generally low online traffic back then led to the business ultimately failing.
Patel, however, learned a lot, which led him down a path that culminated with the success and sale of hotelreservation.com, a forefather to his and Chaddah’s current brand. “There’s tremendous potential in the travel industry,” says Patel. “You can achieve huge growth in an e-commerce space.”
The two men, having met through a mutual business partner during other ventures, came together a few years after Patel’s business sale. “We got to know each other and really appreciate who the other one was,” Chaddah says. “We've been together in business ever since.”