Skift Take

Stay Alfred's $15 million Series A funding may pale next to the roughly $3 billion that Airbnb has raised. But the company — which services apartment rentals and aims for hotel-quality service — is part of a thriving wave of vendors providing an ecosystem of services around short-term urban rentals.

Each week we spotlight the latest travel startups to announce funding. This week’s total amount raised was more than $74 million.

On Monday, Skift shared the news that Upside, a business travel startup, based in Washington, D.C., has raised $50 million from investors who saw a lot of potential upside with a $200 million valuation. The company lets business travelers buy flights and hotels at package prices, which promise overall savings.

Upside is led by Jay Walker, co-founder of travel brand Priceline and one of the inventors of name-your-price travel selling. For context on Upside, see Walker’s interview at last autumn’s Skift Global Forum.

Here are a few other ventures that revealed this week that they have raised funding.

>>Stay Alfred, a Spokane, Washington-based startup, has closed a $15 million Series A investment round. The equity financing was led by an undisclosed private equity group in Seattle, according to a regulatory filing confirmed by the company.

Stay Alfred manages about 350 vacation homes exclusively in upscale apartment buildings in a dozen cities across the U.S., like Boston, Dallas, and Nashville. The 72-employee company offers hotel-style services, and its goal is to operate more like a hotel chain. It says it has served more than 150,000 guests since its founding in 2011 and that it booked more than $25 million in revenue in 2016.

>>FLYR, the flight trends predictions business, closed an $8 million Series A round of funding, led by boldfaced-name investor Peter Thiel. Other participants in the round include existing investors such as JetBlue Technology Ventures (one of its mentors), Streamlined Ventures, AXA Strategic Ventures, Amadeus, Western Technology Investment, Plug and Play, and Chasm Capital Management. Its European operation is supported by AXA Seed Factory, the capital arm by the world’s largest insurer.

FLYR provides fare prediction and booking optimization solutions. In a trial for metasearch bookings, TripAdvisor recently added its FareKeep price-protection solution, which lets consumers or agents lock in the price of a flight for up to a month in exchange for a fee.

CEO and co-founder Jean Tripier tells Skift: “Our goals in 2017 with the funding are to accelerate new product launches. We are going from FareKeep (fare protection) to an additional 3 products in the market, all leveraging fare predictions for different stages of the search to book funnel.”

>>Skylights, a startup with offices in San Francisco, Paris, and Toulouse, France, has raised $1.3 million in a seed investment round. Investors include Bragel Brothers, Comcast Ventures, David Gurle, and Presence Capital. Some financing was provided by Y Combinator, the incubator whose famous alumni include Airbnb and Hipmunk, and by Plug and Play Tech Center, which provided mentoring to it in autumn 2016. The company was launched in Paris’s Starburst Incubator, with backing from Airbus.

Skylights makes wrap-around headsets for viewing media content without distractions, including content designed specifically for virtual reality devices. It aims first to be a business-class amenity for airlines. Having just launched its first commercial deployment with French carrier XL Airways, it has recently been focusing on the industrialization of the headset, the licensing of films, and the gaining of the relevant security approval to be allowed on board on airlines.

The funding raised will be mainly put towards deepening the end-to-end solution, which means signing contracts with movie studios and partnering with service providers to load the headsets onto the aircraft before take-off, offload and clean them after landing, and update and recharge them ready for the next flight.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.


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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: Freshly-funded Stay Alfred, a Spokane, Washington-based startup, manages short-term rentals in a dozen U.S. cities. It serves guests as if they were staying in a hotel. Stay Alfred

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