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This week travel startups BookingPal, Instawork, Withlocals, Ayenda Rooms, and Questo together announced more than $30 million in funding. Of note, famous venture investor Bill Gurley took a stake in Instawork's hiring marketplace, and mammoth investor Softbank is betting on Ayenda Rooms as Colombia's version of budget hotel franchisor Oyo.

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 $30 million in funding.

>>BookingPal, a seller of vacation rental software, has raised $12 million in funding. It was probably a Series C round, but the company didn’t say.

Valor Capital Group led the round. Altabix, the corporate venture capital fund of Hoteles City Express, also participated.

BookingPal has said it has raised $22 million since its founding in 2013 from investors that have included Amadeus Ventures, PAR Capital Management, Plug and Play Ventures, and Thayer Ventures.

The startup offers tools to helps property management companies manage and distribute vacation rental inventory online. The Irvine, California-based company connects popular property management software systems with consumer travel websites such as Airbnb,, Expedia, Google, HomeAway/VRBO, and TripAdvisor.
It will use the fresh capital to move into more markets, said Alex Aydin, founder and CEO.

>>Withlocals, a tours-and-activities booking service, has raised $9 million (€8 million) in Series B funding.

Keen Venture Partners led the round. The startup had previously raised $7.3 million (€6.5 million).

Withlocals matches travelers with private tours and activity organizers in more than 30 cities across Europe and Asia.

“With great momentum, the company pulls off the paradox of delivering uniquely personal experiences at scale,” claimed Robert Verwaayen, general partner at Keen.

Withlocals, based in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, has 56 employers. Besides having a consumer website, it also offers content to travel suppliers such as TripAdvisor, Booking, GetyourGuide, Expedia, and TUI. It claims to serve “tens of thousands of travelers each month.” One of the company’s goals is to make more of its services online available in more languages.

>>Instawork, officially called Garuda Labs, is a jobs marketplace that has raised an $8.2 million Series A.

Benchmark led the round. Benchmark’s general partner Bill Gurley is renowned for making an early investment in Uber Technologies and he led this investment in Instawork.

The startup has raised $10 million in total since its founding in San Francisco in 2015 and its graduation from the Y Combinator accelerator.

Instawork matches restaurants and hotels in San Francisco and Los Angeles with job-seekers, such as waiters and caterers.

Business owners can track when a worker arrives at a job site because the mobile app tracks the worker’s location, said Sumir Meghani, co-founder and CEO at Instawork.

Many workers lack LinkedIn or similar professional profiles online, but they can use Instawork to help promote themselves.

>>Ayenda Rooms, which calls itself Colombia’s largest hotel chain, has raised a $1.25 million seed round.

SoftBank joined 500 Startups and Kairos as investors in the round.

The Medellin-based company only began signing up properties last year, but it already has 45 budget hotels under its brand. It uses a variation on the franchise model of Oyo in India. It takes all of the rooms at each property exclusively for Ayenda’s sales channels. It takes a percentage of all of the hotel’s sales and, in return, provides Ayenda’s marketing, technology, and customer acquisition channels.

The company only has 20 workers but may need more if it will meet its goal of franchising 120 hotels in 2019. The company pivoted from its original effort at building a property management system.

>>Questo, the maker of a real-world exploration game, has raised an undisclosed seed round of investment. If you remember the Pokemon Go craze, you’ll have an idea of this mobile app-based game, which encourages people to travel across 40 European cities to solve clues.

Questo was one of ten finalists accepted into the Booster Lab, a startup incubator, in 2018. Two unnamed angel investors made the undisclosed investment in the startup, based in Bucharest, Romania.

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: Shown here is an example of a luxury vacation rental of the type that uses BookingPal's channel management services. This week travel startups including BookingPal, Instawork, Withlocals, Ayenda Rooms, and Ayenda Rooms together announced more than $30 million in funding. BookingPal

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