Skift Take

AppZen wants to remove the stress from filing monthly expense reports at companies worldwide, and it applies artificial intelligence to address the problem in a way that sounds compelling.

Series: Startups 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.

This week the total funding publicized was more than $51 million in venture capital and $30 million in real estate capital.

>>AppZen, which automates expense management for businesses, has closed a $35 million Series B financing.

Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round. Redpoint Ventures also participated. The investment brings the company’s total funding to more than $52 million.

The San Jose, California-based startup is right now focused on the expense auditing and compliance platform is focused on travel and entertainment expenses, including business travel and all operational expenses that employees put through as business expenses related to trips. But it hopes to use this funding to broaden its scope to new products across enterprise expenditure.

The company, founded in 2012, uses computer vision, deep learning, and natural language processing to automatically read and audit expense reports, receipts, invoices, and contracts while cross-checking that information against hundreds of online data sources.

>>Life House, a new hotel chain, said it had received an additional $30 million in real estate capital, led by Henley Investments.

In May, Life House reported it had raised $10 million in Series A venture capital and $30 million in real estate capital.

This week Life House began taking reservations for its first properties, which are in the Miami neighborhoods of Little Havana and South Beach.

The company said their company is on track to have more than 20 hotels under development in the U.S. by the end of 2019. The company unveiled a technology platform that supports a direct booking system and a social network for guests as a distinctive offering from traditional hotels.

Life House, based in New York City, currently has 40 employees. The concept behind New York City-based Life House isn’t new. There are hundreds of hotel development and management companies worldwide. What is novel is for Silicon Valley venture capital to back one.

>>Properly, a San Francisco-based company that provides a cleaning and quality management platform to Airbnb hosts and vacation rental managers, has raised an $8.5 million Series A.

Asset Management Ventures led the round. AccorHotels also participated.

San Francisco-based Properly allows hospitality brands and property managers to set quality standards for their team, manage their operation, and confirm that work meets their expectations. AccorHotel’s Onefinestay brand of alternative accommodations is one of the startup’s customers.

Founded in 2014, Properly is currently used by over 20,000 property managers and hosts worldwide. Alex Nigg is CEO and founder of Properly. Drew Patterson, formerly CEO of Room77 and Checkmate, is chief revenue officer.

>>Freebird, an enterprise software company helping with flight disruptions and rebooking for corporate travelers, has raised $8 million in Series A investment.

American Express Ventures led the round. Other new investors include Citi Ventures and PAR Capital. Past investors General Catalyst and Accomplice also participated. The company has raised $16.5 million in total.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said that, in the past 18 months, Freebird has added more than 100 corporate clients and 10 corporate travel agency partners, including BCD Travel and is on track to serve about a quarter-million passengers in the next year.

Founded in 2015, Freebird was one of Skift’s top startups to watch in 2017. It now has 25 full-time employees.

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. The rare ones that do often attract venture capital. Their funding rounds 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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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: AppZen co-founders Kunal Verma (left) and Anant Kale are pleased that their startup has received $35 million in funding. AppZen

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