Maksim Izmaylov: Entrepreneur, Hacker

Maksim Izmaylov

If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world. Noam Chomsky

My goal is to leave this place in better shape that I found it by using the technologies and tools I have at hand. I am very excited about the blockchain and AI in particular.

Blockchains are fundamentally designed to remove intermediaries from many areas of human life and by doing so solve problems (like inequality) that exist only because of centralization of power.

As an avid traveler and a person who knows technology, I'm very frustrated with the state of technological progress in travel (or lack thereof). One of my goals is to move the industry forward through the various projects that I'm currently working on.

Here's a set of assumptions I operate on.

  • Travel industry is 10 (some say 15-20) years behind in terms of technological progress.
  • In the next 5-10 years all travel companies will have to become software companies that will employ many more software engineers than today, like it has already happened with other industries (e.g. Wall Street)
  • Collaboration in travel is very limited: there are no open-source projects or events for software engineers.
  • There is almost no innovation around core travel products: hotel and airline bookings.
  • There are no killer startups in travel.
  • Travel is dominated by 5 big companies: Sabre, Travelport, Amadeus, Expedia and Priceline. These companies have no incentive to innovate their technology platforms that were, in some cases, built back in 70s.
  • There are multiple middlemen between suppliers (e.g. hotels) and end users. Those middlemen add to the cost of the service and increase transaction times immensely.
  • Standards in travel are developed with a speed of a printing press. It took IATA 5 years to develop NDC. We have to change the governance model of developing standards by including all the stakeholders into the discussion. This is why I work with HTNG and Open Travel Alliance on the new platform.
  • Every travel startup I know is struggling because they don't have access to data from hotels, airlines and tour and activity providers.
  • Innovation happens from the bottom up

Projects

Winding Tree ← Primary Project
A blockchain-powered marketplace with the goal of opening up the data in the travel industry and enabling innovation. (Forbes, Nasdaq, Coindesk, Skift, HuffPost)
Travel Tech Con ← Now mostly run by Marina Berezovska
Community of travel startups and other organizations that think startups will change the future of travel. Goal: enabling collaboration in travel.
Roomstorm ← Undergoing a Merger
Software for airlines and hotels, to help them with accommodating passengers from cancelled and delayed flights. (Startup profile on Tnooz). Y Combinator batch S14.
Air Rating ← Discontinued
Airline rating based on social media mentions. Weekend project, discontinued.
Wandertab ← Successfully used by Hitlist
Whenever you open a new tab, Wandertab shows you a stunning picture from an amazing place as well as how much it costs to go there. I created the first version of Wandertab with Gillian Morris of Hitlist at a THack hackathon.

Articles

Public Speaking

My goal today is to educate people about the blockchain technology, help people and organization to understand the implications of that technology.

I speak at most conferences free of charge, given that the travel and accommodation costs are covered.

bio in third person + headshot

Upcoming

Past

Workshop: Blockchain in Travel

"Blockchain" has become a buzzword recently. With this workshop I help travel companies, like airlines, OTAs, GDSs, etc., to cut through the noise and educate their teams about the potential of this technology and possible problems as well.

In this workshop I explain the blockchain in simple terms, so no knowledge of programming, cryptography or databases is necessary.

The speaker fee for this workshop is 1BTC + accommodation and flights (business class on legs longer than 4 hours).

Clients

  • Lufthansa
  • TUI Group

My Email Rules

Code red! I am overbooked in terms of emails and will be able to only respond only to a subset of emails I receive.

I would like to give hope and prevent heartache by explaining what happens when I receive an email.

First of all, I answer 100% of my emails and I have 0-inbox policy. Email is also my to-do list, so please be sure that I will respond.

Your mileage may vary though, and here is a simple reason: to me, email is more distracting that anything else. I never check my Facebook or Twitter and I rarely post something there, because my work requires long chunks of uninterrupted time. I try to do my emails at certain times and in bulk.

I also receive a lot of email, so if I haven't answered your email yet, it means that I'm answering emails that I got before it, it's only fair.

If I receive an unsolicited email that promotes a random business, like all your tech recruitment agencies, a new hot application or promise of hot leads for my business, I unsubscribe, if possible, and immediately delete it. Out of hundreds of those emails not single one was useful. More than that, if you respond to those email, you are actively promoting spam that then clogs our inboxes. If I receive a follow-up email and there is no way for me to unsubscribe, I delete it and report it as spam.

We all receive lots of emails these days, let's try be short and consice in our communication. It will make our lives better.