Breaking into the fiercely competitive travel industry may seem tough but one young CEO jumped in feet first and ended up swimming rather than sinking, in some very nice pools.
"I really had to think on my feet," says Stephanie Chai, the founder and chief executive of luxury travel booking website theluxenomad.com.
The site started out in 2012 as a place for hotels to advertise flash sales, and then added features for users to book directly on the site. But hotel booking is dominated by big companies with deep pockets that aim at the mass market - the likes of Agoda, Expedia, and even Airbnb - so in 2015 Chai moved the site's focus to the niche area of luxury villas.
"I was in the hotel business [and] my average booking size was maybe $1,500," Chai told CNBC's "Managing Asia."
"When I'm in the villa business, my average booking size is $5,000. So it's kind of the same amount of work, but earning a lot more here."
The company has raised about 1.5 million Singapore dollars ($1 million) in three rounds of funding to date, and counts Douglas Khoo, one of the founders of Chinese online travel booking company Qunar.com, among its investors.