Skift Take

Three interesting companies announced investments this week: Virtuo, a car rental service, aims to replace service counters with mobile-first customer service. May Mobility builds autonomous vehicles for smart cities. NuStay offers hotel price-comparison.

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 travel startups announced more than $46.7 million in funding.

>>Virtuo , a car rental company, has raised $23 million in a Series B round.

Iris, Balderton, and Raise Ventures participated as investors.

Virtuo has raised $33.6 million of venture capital since its founding in 2015.

The company lets customers rent Mercedes and other luxury brand vehicles by a mobile app at 27 train stations, airports, and city center locations in France, Belgium, and the UK.

Like car-sharing firm Zipcar, Virtuo lets a traveler pick a car via the app and then unlock the vehicle with the app — skipping a counter service line. The startup has 50 employees but plans to double its headcount within a year.

>>May Mobility, a company that primarily builds automomous vehicle shuttles for so-called smart cities, has raised $22 million in Series A funding.

Millennium New Horizons and Cyrus Capital Partners led the round. LG Technology Ventures, Thayer Ventures, BMW i Ventures, and Toyota AI Ventures also participated. The company, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has raised about $33.5 million since its founding in 2017, and it’s a graduate of the Y Combinator incubator in Silicon Valley.

In June 2018, May Mobility debuted self-driving, six-seat shuttle service in downtown Detroit, which helps people get around town on defined routes. It later began service in Columbus, Ohio, and has plans to add service in Providence, Rhode Island, this spring and Grand Rapids, Michigan, this summer.

A rival automomous vehicle shuttle maker is Bosch.

Some cities will like suttles driven by robots as a cost-effective way to provide transit on routes not large enough to support traditional bus service. Others will prefer a vehicle that can offer more amenities and potentially tourism-related content, suggests Alex Banbridge of Autoura, a company that focuses on the industry’s transition to autonomous vehicle sightseeing.

A different concept to the shuttle is what Bainbridge calls a self-driving “experience delivery vehicle,” such as Renault’s Ultimo or Volvo’s 360c concept car.

>>Nustay, a hotel and vacation rental booking platform, has raised $1.7 million (16.5 million Swedish Krona) from a mix of professional retail investors and investment funds in a pre-subscription raise for an initial public offering. The company plans to list on the Spotlight stock exchange this spring.

The Copenhagen-based company, founded in 2014, uses a mix of wholesaler and online travel agency content to offer listings for more than 1.5 million hotels. It has 67 full-time employees across its offices.

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, rental cars, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: Virtuo, a car rental company, has raised $23 million in funding. Shown here is Virtuo’s co-founder, Karim Kaddoura (right) and co-founder Thibault Chassagne (left) with example cars for rent in front of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London. Virtuo

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