Skift Take

Private equity aims to scale up an Indian agency with a core business traveler clientele, while two rival subscription airlines combine, and a clone of Airbnb for gay travelers receives funding. Clearly, some investors favor companies that focus on niches.

Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. The total raised this week was more than $44 million.

>>Private equity fund Emerging India recently took a majority stake in the 27-year old Indian travel agency Orbit Corporate and Leisure Tours.

The Mauritus-based fund believes it can bring the Mumbai-based, offline travel agency into the online era with the help of investment, new executives, and a multi-pronged business strategy.

Emerging India has created a new brand, Goomo, for the combined entity.

The fund has invested $25 million to date in the combined Goomo operation.
It has pledged an additional $25 million if the company meets its targets.

Goomo (formerly Orbit) has 14 domestic stores and specializes in travel services for Indian companies, such as running trade fairs and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions).

In March, the new brand Goomo also launched a consumer website that sells flights and vacation packages. The online travel agency will soon offer hotels and other products via its website and planned mobile apps.

The fund installed Varun Gupta as chief executive in November, after an 18-year career at GE, Deloitte, and KPMG that included several director roles for operations. He has staffed up the company, which has more than 250 employees.

>>Evolve Vacation Rental Network, a Denver-based vacation rental management company, has received $11 million in a Series C financing round.

The round was “led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price,” Evolve said, and included participation from Annox Capital, Allen & Company, and PAR Capital Ventures. Evolve’s total funding is now $23 million.

Evolve intends to use the capital to ramp up its techplatform for its 4,000 properties under management and on its marketing and booking tools. The company charges owners a booking fee of 10 percent.

The $100 billion managed property sector within vacation rentals came into the spotlight this year after Airbnb acquired Luxury Retreats.

>>Misterb&b, launched in 2013 in Paris, is a short-term rental platform aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers — though its marketing seems directly almost entirely at gay men.

It has closed an $8 million Series A investment round, bringing the total it has raised to date to $10.5 million.

The company participated in 500 Startups, one of the largest accelerators in Silicon Valley.

The business model is the same as Airbnb’s. Misterb&b takes a cut of 16 percent on each booking, plus some advertising.

The private company does not disclose its revenue but says it has a lot of repeat customers who use the site about three times a year, on average.

Its main difference with Airbnb — apart from its size and lack of brand awareness — is that it doesn’t cut deals with property managers, and emphasizes properties owned by individuals.

>>Surf Air, a subscription-based service for private jets, has acquired one of its main competitors, the startup Rise, for an undisclosed sum.

Skift anticipated such a possible outcome in 2015, when we noted both the close ties between the two companies founders and the difficulty of getting traction in this market.

Two years after launching its first flight, Dallas private jet subscription startup Rise will become part of a California company with similar aspirations to expand to more cities and lure high-value business travelers away from commercial airlines.

Santa Monica-based Surf Air has a members-only model that flies Pilatus PC-12 turboprops on the West Coast. It will rebrand the Rise flights, which focus on Texas and southeast U.S. region.

Rise claimed that it has about 850 members who pay about $2,000 per month and that its flights were three-quarters full on average. Surf Air makes similar claims.

The deal is an early sign of looming consolidation in the sector. Wheels Up, membership subscription service, has about 70 planes covering the U.S. northeast, a region that would complete the Surf Air network. Its managing director is an investor in Surf Air.

Surf Air would like to expand to Europe by the end of this year.

See Skift’s first-person account of Surf Air.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi's contemporary facilities and free WiFi appeal to corporate travelers of the kind targeted by Goomo, a travel company in India that has received a substantial private equity investment. Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi

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