Travel startups raised more than $72 million this week. The most promising of these is Treebo, which is banking on branded hotel networks as a niche in India.
>>Treebo Hotels, a branded budget-hotel company, has raised $34 million in a Series C funding round, led by Hong Kong-based investment firms Ward Ferry Management and Karst Peak Capital.
The round brings its total fundraising to $57 million. Also participating in the round are past investors SAIF Partners, Matrix Partners India, and Bertelsmann India Investments.
Bangalore-based Treebo Hotels is a budget hotel aggregator, with about 300 participating hotels operating in more than 50 cities. It is not a chain with franchisees in the sense a Marriott has. It instead is a booking site that asks hotels to meet certain minimum standards of amenities, such as branded toiletries and free Wi-Fi, in exchange for leads.
Treebo does not get the same media attention as Oyo Rooms, another hotel aggregator, which has received more funding — though the true amounts injected are disputed by some critics. OYO claims to have 70,000 rooms in 6,500 hotels available as listings in 200 cities, but some of its claims have been contradictory and implausible.
Last month, FabHotels, a budget hotel brand based in Gurgaon, India, which has more than 225 hotels in two dozen Indian cities, raised $25 million in a Series B investment round led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners. The startup has raised $35 million to date.
Earlier this year another competitor, Zo Rooms, unwound.
>>TravelBank, a San Francisco-based vendor of a travel expense and rewards app for business, raised $25 million in a Series B funding. DCM Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Propel Venture Partners, DanHua Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Accel Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. The startup has raised $35 million to date.
CEO Duke Chung co-founded the company with Ching Ho Fung and Reid Williams. In autumn 2016, they launched their expense-management product for small businesses. Today they say the company has thousands of users who work at 800 U.S. companies like Doordash, Stride Health, and WeddingWire.
Chung told Skift that while tech companies like Expensify and Concur have helped businesses improve expense tracking productivity and compliance, there was a gap in the market for incentivizing traveler behavior to be compliant. TravelBank encourages travelers to stay under budget by offering rewards for picking cheaper flights or hotels. It also offers managers a predictive budgeting tool.
While many expense management vendors charge subscriptions, TravelBank instead relies on generating revenue through commissions from suppliers.
TravelBank faces competition from other companies whose services partly overlap with its own, such as GetThere, NexTravel, RocketTrip, 30SecondsToFly, TripActions, and Upside. But the $25 million in funding will help with marketing.
>>Homelike, a Cologne, Germany-based startup that offers booking at 30,000 furnished, extended-stay apartments in Western European cities for business travelers, raised $4.8 million, or €4 million, in Series A funding. Cherry Ventures led the round and was joined by existing investor Coparion.
Founded in 2014, the 45-employee company claims to have 10,000 corporate customers, including Siemens and Adesso, which have booked 400,000 room nights at the apartments. They are only run by professional landlords at higher-end properties in central city locations — and not by amateur hosts.
>>HotelChamp, an Amsterdam-based provider of a marketing and sales platform to hotels, has raised $4.7 million, or €4 million, in seed funding. Angel investors include Nalden, founder of WeTransfer and Phillippe de Knijff and Jolanda Degen of WorldTicketCenter.
The 50-employee company launched its platform last summer. HotelChamp helps properties increase their direct bookings. It has signed more than 1,000 major hotels in more than 40 countries. Clients include Meininger Hotel Group, Palazzo Versace, and Apex Hotels.
>>ShoCard, a Cupertino, California-based blockchain-based seller of an identity management system, raised $4 million Series A round of funding. AME Cloud Ventures and Morado Venture Partners jointly led the round.
While not strictly focused on travel, ShoCard aims to replace the use of passwords and usernames with mobile-based encryption derived from things like scans of people’s faces. The company taps blockchain technology to handle who has permission to see the data records.
ShoCard is not exclusively focused on travel applications. But SITA, the IT non-profit run by airlines and airports, has worked with ShoCard on prototyping how blockchain could help with border management and airport security.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.
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Photo Credit: Treebo Hotels co-founders (left-to-right) Rahul Chaudhary, Sidharth Gupta, and Kadam Jeet-Jain created the freshly funded hotel network back in 2015. Treebo Hotels
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