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27. Secret Escapes

A members-only flash sales travel site, offering big discounts on luxury holidays and hotels

Founders: Tom Valentine, Troy Collins and Alex Saint
Founded: January 2011
Website: www.secretescapes.com

In a recent blog post, we highlighted ‘curation’ as one of the hottest digital start-up trends to watch. Secret Escapes is a great example of this. The company negotiates exclusive discounts (up to 70% off) on boutique hotels and luxury resorts – all hand-picked by a team of travel experts. Founded by the team behind Dealchecker.co.uk and Tom Valentine (ex-eBay and Seatwave), Secret Escapes runs around 20 flash sales at any one time.

In just 18 months, it has attracted more than a million members, and sold thousands of rooms at carefully curated four or five-star establishments. Throw in funding from top venture capital firms, and investment from some of the UK’s leading digital entrepreneurs (including Andy McLoughlin, co-founder of former Startups 100 champion Huddle, and you’ve got one very promising start-up.