CTOs can often have a unique perspective on the industries they work in. While many are focused on the end product, customer service, or accounting, developers need to have a grip on all aspects of a business. We spoke with Eric Parent, CTO of Momentum Ventures in Montreal, Quebec. Momentum Ventures, which is headed by Eric’s close friend Matt Keezer, is a technology company with history in the online streaming, affiliate marketing, and advertisement serving industry. Since 2012, their sights have shifted to online travel with the launch of FlightHub and their latest release, Alio.
How did you get your start in technology? Did you have any specific moments that made it click?
Honestly, I wanted to do video games originally. I was never really good in high school, but in CEGEP I discovered I was really good at Computer Sciences. This success really excited me and I got a high from being better than the other students. I also had one teacher who made it really fun to be a programmer, and that changed my perspective on software development.
What was your first tech job?
While in school I worked at a financial company called Jitney. I worked with their IT Manager to maintain their stock platforms and eventually built new programs to help the business and the individual brokers.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment in technology?
Definitely FlightHub. The travel industry is very complicated and you have to deal with a lot of third parties. There are so many moving parts with online travel, and some can be very complex. The challenge was working with all these moving parts at the same time while aligning everyone and teaching everyone how to manage the workload.
What was your most embarrassing moment? Essentially, your biggest “oh, no” moment.
Someone deleted a table in a financial database. We lost a lot of transactional data and it took a lot of time to fully recover this lost data. We learned a lot that day about who we give access to.
In regards to FlightHub, can you please explain how your pricing works? You are not an aggregator, so how do you handle pricing?
The name of the game is to increase your odds of having good content. Ultimately you have to get as much content as possible and have the providers fight over who is cheapest. It’s essentially a capitalistic search engine. We made it so we pull from everywhere and let wholesalers duke it out. Not only does this make things easier on our end, it also helps the customer get the best prices.
What was the biggest challenge in developing FlightHub?
Automating most of the reservation management. Without it we wouldn’t have made it. We would have needed a lot of manpower to manage tickets and reservations. We honestly wouldn’t be competitive without the automation in place. So, getting that working correctly was paramount.
Alio just launched, it is using Amazon Web Services. Does this give it an advantage over FlightHub?
Yes. The developers have more control over what they can do. We can scale automatically, either up or down depending on demand, saving money. We can use Amazon’s services which are also super powerful and gives us access to tools we wouldn’t of had access to otherwise. It also saves a lot of time. It used to take a week to setup new machines, now we can do it in about 20 minutes.
What’s your next big project? Have any insight into where online travel is going?
The major focus for us is hotels. There are over 1.2 million hotels out there. The challenge will be to integrate as many of these as we can, or should, and create a system that can manage all this content. It’s a challenge we are really looking forward to as we want to compete with industry leaders who have spent over a decade trying to do this. So, the challenge ultimately is to do it, and, in time, learn to do it better.