We were skeptical of claims from Skyroam that travelers would pay a premium for seamless mobile Wi-Fi. After all, the internet has become cheap and easy to access in many destinations. But the startup has attracted millions of paying users. The lesson: There's always a premium version of an existing service waiting to be invented.
Travel Startup Funding This Week
Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Senior Travel Tech Editor Sean O’Neill at [email protected] if you have funding news.
Travel startups publicized more than $58 million in fundraising this week.
Earlier this week we covered vacation rental tech startup TurnKey’s $31 million Series B funding round. Here are some other top fundings that startups revealed this week.
>>Skyroam, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot provider, raised $20 million in a Series C round.
JAFCO Asia led the round. Vickers Venture, GSR Ventures, China Broadband Capital, and Delta Electronics Capital also participated.
This investment brings the San Francisco-based company’s total funding to a little more than $50 million.
Founded in 2014, Skyroam sells devices that look like hockey pucks and that provide mobile Wi-Fi.
The company seems to have defied skeptics who thought the product was unnecessary, given that many cafes, hotel lobbies, and other places make Wi-Fi free, and many telecoms have streamlined their charges for overseas users.
It claims its service “has reached more than 15 million users worldwide” and that the company has achieved “profitability.”
By using Skyroam, you can avoid a telecom company’s “overage charges” and bandwidth usage limits and connect up to five devices at a time.
Skyroam’s devices claim to be also more secure and simpler than the common alternative, in that they don’t require using so-called SIM cards — subscriber identity module cards that pop in and out of smartphones and enable access to national voice and data networks.
>>Airsorted, a London-based vacation rental management service, raised $7 million (£5 million) in Series A funding.
Pi Labs, a previous investor, and Atami Capital led the round. The company raised a $2 million (£1.5 million) round in 2016, led by Concentric. Along with seed rounds, it has raised about $9.6 million to date.
Founded three years ago as Second Home, the startup intends on expanding beyond London to other markets, such as Australia, thanks to the funding.
The company faces competitors. Urban, upscale, short-term rentals are being “professionalized” by many host management and digital marketing companies, as shown by this partial list of 300 Airbnb owner-supporting service vendors.
London is a hotspot for companies promising solutions for the short-term rental sector. In November 2017, Hostmaker, an Airbnb management service based in London, raised $15 million in a Series B funding round. In October 2017, GuestReady, a London-based startup that manages rentals on behalf of property owners, closed a $3 million seed round.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups here.
Photo credit: Shown here is an early 2018 photograph of a Skyroam portable Wi-Fi hotspot called the Solis. The manufacturer has just raised a large Series C funding round. Skyroam