Robotic luggage that follows you like a golden retriever. An app for ordering beautiful people to attend your event. A tool for making corporate travel as pleasant as leisure travel. These are the fantastical ideas that got funded this week.
Travel Startup Funding This Week
Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Travel Tech Reporter Justin Dawes at [email protected] if you have funding news.
The total publicized this week was more than $27 million.
>>ForwardX, a luggage manufacturer, has raised $10 million in financing. Its soon-to-debut Ovis brand luggage uses cameras and object-recognition software to follow a traveler around, by their side, like a dog.
CDH Venture and Eastern Bell Venture Capital led the round. The company, founded in late 2016 in Beijing, China, separately raised $1 million from angel investors.
Smart luggage is a tough category. Previous attempts by companies like BlueSmart stumbled due to government regulations about batteries and other factors. ForwardX claimed it could avoid those problems.
A separate concern: The startup only sold a few hundred in advance orders and retail distribution will be costly.
>>Surkus, a Los Angeles-based provider of technology primarily for hiring attractive people to attend events, raised $10 million in Series B funding.
EOS Global led the round. Surkus said it had raised $19 million to date.
The company claimed that 500,000 people in major U.S. cities have downloaded its mobile app and signed up to offer to attend events in return for modest fees. Its members have attended more than 5,200 events for more than 1,000 clients, and have been paid typical per person fees of between $5 and $100.
To quote an example cited by The Washington Post, “A gaming company throwing a launch party might ask Surkus to find men and women ages 18 to 32 who like comic books, day parties, dance music and the company’s product. Once potential attendees have been identified from Surkus’ user profiles, the app sends ‘availability requests’ to users’ phones.”
>>Roadmap, a provider of mobile-first management tools for corporate travelers, has raised $4.6 million (€4 million) in a Series A round.
Newion Investments led the round.
CEO Jeroen van Velzen, Koen Bavinck, and Markus Emmer founded Roadmap in Amsterdam in April 2015.
The business travel startup sector has been heating up, with recent fundings for companies whose services provide some overlapping functionality for the overall business travel sector, such as TripActions, Upside, and Rocketrip.
Roadmap says it stands out by going after high-end enterprise software companies, and Van Velzen claims the company shows superior adoption and engagement numbers for its mobile app.
>>The Dyrt, a campground search mobile app, has raised $2.6 million in venture funding. The startup said it has aggregated more than 70,000 pictures, videos, and reviews of campsites.
Peninsula Ventures led the Series A. Rogue Venture Partners, Fluffco, Varkain, Portland Seed Fund, Tie Angels, and Telluride Venture Fund also pitched in. The Portland, Oregon, based company has 25 employees, who help support its iOS and Android camping apps.
Skift Cheat Sheet:
We define a startup as a company formed to test and build a repeatable and scalable business model. Few companies meet that definition and the rare ones that do often attract venture capital — where money is provided today to fund growth in exchange for a promise of large returns in the future.
Funding tends to come in waves. Seed capital is money used to start a business, often led by angel investors and friends or family.
Series A financing is typically drawn from venture capitalists. The round aims to help a startup’s founders make sure that their product is something that customers truly want to buy.
Series B financing is mainly about venture capitalist firms helping a company grow faster, or scale up. These fundraising rounds can assist with recruiting skilled workers and developing cost-effective marketing.
Series C financing is ordinarily about helping a company expand, such as through acquisitions. In addition to VCs, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms often participate.
Series D, E and beyond These mainly mature businesses and the funding round may help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. A variety of types of private investors might participate.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.
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Photo credit: ForwardX Robotics has invented luggage that follows you around thanks to sensors, motors, and a battery. The manufacturer is one of several companies that received funding this week. ForwardX Robotics