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We won a grant of €400,000 from Booking.com. We decided to share the news with our partners and network in the travel world, to tell you how we got it, why we were successful in the most competed impact tourism accelerator worldwide and how we are going to invest it. 

Rodrigo Atuesta and Camilo Martinez winning the €400,000 Booking Booster grant

What is Booking Booster?

Booking Booster is Booking.com's 3-week zero-equity accelerator and €2M fund to support scale-ups to grow their sustainable tourism venture.

How we got it: A brief story of the journey to Booking Booster

December 2, 2018: After working on our application for weeks and producing this home-made application video, we submitted our application together with hundreds of travel startups globally. 


February 18, 2019: We were chosen as one of the 10 participants to join the program. We were assigned Joseph Levin (Director of Product, Booking.com) as our mentor and started working on multiple tasks we had to deliver.

Joseph Levin, Rodrigo Atuesta and Camilo Martinez

April 23, 2019: The first day of the 3-week accelerator in Booking.com headquarters in Amsterdam. Our founders Camilo Martinez and Rodrigo Atuesta, went to represent Impulse, receiving all the learnings and insights of multiple sessions with trainers, experts, and fellow startups. We developed our plan to use the power of tourism to support social transformation and cultural preservation in Colombia. 

During the 3-week accelerator in Amsterdam

May 8, 2019: The final pitch day! Rodrigo delivered an impressive 3-minute pitch to the 6 judges and an audience of 400 people. After all the startups pitched, the award ceremony took place. Impulse got the highest grant of €400,000 and an additional €100,000 Amazon Web Services coupon.

Rodrigo Atuesta delivering his final pitch

Why did we succeed?

There are many elements that helped. But to keep it simple, we can boil it down to 4. 

Impulse has a proven business model. We’ve operated tours for over 17,000 international travelers in Colombia and we keep a good record of business and impact metrics that helped us build realistic projections.  

Impact at our core:
We have a strong why and sense of purpose that underlies our whole business model. The experiences we develop have a positive impact on both locals and travelers, helping communities thrive while rebranding Colombia using positive narratives. 

Drive and Passion:
Like any investor, Booking makes sure that there is a capable team who has a strong drive, works with passion, and who can move fast, fail fast, deliver results and execute a budget. Our business is our vehicle to be the change we want to see in the world.

The Impulse Travel Team   

Relationship with our mentor: 
The support and guidance of our mentor during the program was crucial. However, Booking Booster doesn’t end at the final pitch! We will be getting a lot of support from them in our endeavor, and having developed a great relationship and engagement with our mentor is key for the year ahead. 

The booking booster winners

How will we invest the grant?

Generally speaking, we are keeping the same trajectory we had, but we can go faster and stronger. Our challenge: Make impact tourism cool. 

These are our 3 points of focus to grow our business and impact: 

Grow demand
We are optimizing the distribution channels for tours and activities through our platform and channels. Additionally, we know that we need great B2B partners to scale our reach to global demand, so we are strengthening our DMC vertical. If you want to know more, please contact us here. 

Make impactful experiences  
We are focusing our product development efforts on tours that have a positive impact on the experience of travelers, locals and their communities. This is not a voluntourism or “human zoo” kind of thing. Our tours are made for the experiential travelers, giving them access to experiences they’d never have on their own while contributing to peacebuilding and cultural preservation. If you are locally building this kind of experiences in Colombia, let’s team up. 

Breaking Borders, one of our peace tours

Develop our organization
Our organization will be as good as the people that make it. We are investing in strengthening the hard and soft skills of our team members and the organizational culture. We firmly believe that the human component of Impulse is our main differentiator. We opened 8 new positions if you want to learn more, click here. 

The Impulse Travel Team

We want to thank all our friends and partners for being part of this journey. Let’s keep making tourism for a better world. 



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