Skift Take

Trover is a beautiful and fun photo-sharing app, but the company faces some of the same challenges that most startups confront: How do you scale the business so users know you exist? With an additional $2.5 million in funding from Concur, and with other well-connected backers involved, little Trover can hang around for awhile.

Talk about strange bedfellows: Travel photography iPhone app and website Trover picked up $2.5 million in financing, led by corporate travel and expense company Concur.

Co-founded by Rich Barton, who was Expedia’s first CEO, Trover specializes in geo-tagging, publishing and sharing travel photography, and is the pivot that emerged after Barton and other Expedia alums abandoned a trip-planning venture, TravelPost, in January 2011.

See above for a slideshow of images from Trover

Trover has received $5.4 million in funding to date: $2.9 million that remained after that incarnation of TravelPost shut down, and the current funding round of $2.5 million, which Trover’s announcement refers to as a Series One round. In addition to Concur, existing investors General Catalyst Partners, Benchmark Capital, Trover chairman Barton and several other angel investors are said to have participated in the round.

How does public company Concur, which focuses on technology solutions for corporate travel, get mixed up with a leisure travel-oriented photo-publishing platform?

The financing comes from Concur’s $150 million Perfect Trip Fund for startups. Concur has invested in Cleartrip, buuteeq, Room 77, Expert Virtual Agent, nor1, RideCharge, Yapta, and now Trover. Concur states the fund is geared toward “building and supporting a vibrant community of emerging Travel & Expense-sector companies and helping to accelerate their growth.”

For the time being, Trover, which focuses on users sharing their photos of local restaurants, snorkeling locations, tourist spots and any other whimsical discovery, is about as far away from T&E as you can get.

Trover CEO Jason Karas says that in addition to the actual funding, one of the key things Trover is getting in the deal is being able to tap into Concur’s experience, knowledge and “great visibility into travel patterns” in the form of new Trover board member Michael Hilton, Concur co-founder.

In addition to also getting the ability to interact, when needed, with other startups that Concur’s fund has financed, Karas envisions the possibilities of Trover getting some access to Concur’s legions of road warriors, some of whom might be travel photographers themselves or perhaps want to engage with the Trover community.

There’s undoubtedly some local networking involved in how the funding came about, as both Concur and Trover are located in the Seattle area.

Karas says he met with Concur CEO Steve Singh over coffee in Bellevue, Washington, to talk about the possibilities of funding, adding that Singh indicated that several Concur employees were already familiar with Trover.

Trover plans to use the funding to make a push to expand its travel-photography content, focusing on users’ ability to follow other users with similar interests.

For now, Trover is a community of travel photographers and people who just love viewing and sharing travel photos.

Karas says Trover currently engages with around 120,000 travel photographers/users per month, and would have to triple its inventory of photos before getting to a stage where it could become more consumer-oriented, and think about monetization through advertising and facilitating transactions with travel partners.

If Trover will ever get there is an open question, but with Concur’s backing, Trover, with its staff of five, now has some time to find out.

UPDATE:  Concur also revealed today that its Concur Perfect Trip Fund also led a seed round investment in StayNTouch ($1.6 million), a hotel tech company, and closed a new round with price-tracking service Yapta ($4.2 million, Series D) to enable it to continue its corporate-travel push.






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Tags: photography

Photo credit: Pitching tents at a snow camp at an elevation of more than 16,000 feet near Leh, India, while enroute to Kang La Pass. Marta Logan / Trover

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