Based: Cape Town

Stephan Ekbergh has been a successful serial entrepreneur for more than two decades across multiple, continents and is best known for his pioneering work in the online travel industry. He is the Chief Executive Officer and owner of Travelstart, one of the biggest online travel agencies in Africa with a presence in 16 countries in Africa as well as Turkey, the UAE, Qatar, KSA, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.

Born in Sweden, Stephan started his first business at age 18 as a DJ and booking DJ’s and musical acts for clubs in Malmö. In search of a ‘proper job’ he entered the travel industry in 1989, starting a company named International Tours. After selling the company, he continued to found a number of travel start-ups; including the first automated telephone-based booking company in Sweden called Sistaminutenplatser.

Less than ten years later, he went on to launch Sweden’s first online travel agency, Mr. Jet. Not long thereafter, in 1999, Stephan started Travelstart. He sold his interests in the company and eventually bought it back after the dot com bust of 2001- only to sell the European business again (2010) in order to move into emerging African markets.

“No matter if you are in service, technology or retail, the same business logic applies. People want to work for a company that represents something more than money. Customers want to get a good deal and be treated with respect.”

Based in Cape Town since 2004 with his wife and daughters, Stephan is a supporter of Travel Massive’s Cape Town chapter and an advocate for education in the local community. Through the Thembalitsha Foundation, he supports the School of Hope in the Observatory area of Cape Town which aids at-risk youth in pursuing a second chance at education in a supportive environment.