Skift Take

Planning and booking complex international trips remains a pain point, and Tourlane, Skylark, and TravelLocal are part of a growing wave of companies attempting to provide savvier solutions for travelers. Plus: funding news for authentic souvenir aggregator Rare Planet, serviced apartments provider Mint House, and sustainable mobility tech provider TransitScreen.

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 $75 million in funding.

>>Tourlane, an online travel agency for booking multiday tours, has raised $47 million in a Series C funding round, following fast on a Series B round late last year.

Sequoia and Spark Capital co-led the round. DN Capital and HV Holtzbrinck Ventures also participated, along with angel investors Nate Blecharczyk from Airbnb, Johannes Reck from GetYourGuide, Rolf Schrömgens from Trivago, Wolfgang Heigl from Swoodoo and Hometogo, and Fritz Demopolous from Qunar.

The Berlin-based startup has now raised $81 million (€71.6 million) in funding to date.

“Given the complexity of arranging multiday trips with countless documents and reservations, the co-founders had to reimagine what an online travel company should look like,” said Andrew Reed, an investor at Sequoia. “The result is a unique business, both complementary to much of the online travel industry and poised to reshape the existing model of offline booking via agencies and operators.”

Tourlane uploads supply directly from service providers and offers customers flights, accommodations, tours, activities, and transfer options in one place. The platform aims to provide pricing, availability, instant trip visualization, and drag-and-drop adjustments to make multi-day trip planning easier.

Tourlane, founded in 2016 and based in Berlin, said it had more than 200 employees. It claimed its revenue rose by 800 percent, year-over-year, last year.

>>MintHouse, which offers business travelers alternative accommodations with standardized amenities, has raised a $15 million Series A funding round.

Revolution Ventures led the round in the New York City-based company. Tom Mangas, former CEO of Starwood Hotels, and Carl Sparks, former CEO of Travelocity, also participated.

Mint House, founded in 2017, has 200 units across Indianapolis, Denver, Nashville, Miami, and Detroit. It plans to open units in San Diego and Minneapolis.

The market for serviced rentals and hotel-style rentals is becoming crowded. Mint House aims to stand out with its mobile app, which has somewhat rare tools that recognize when a traveler is approaching a property to provide directions and an ability to use their smartphone as a wireless key.

>>Skylark Travel, a booking agency for luxury travel, has raised $4 million in equity seed funding.

The company 25Madison, a startup studio and investment vehicle, led the round. BCD Travel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Vectr Ventures, and Clarim Holdings participated in the investment round.

Ovation Travel Group, which has a long-term strategic relationship with the startup, remains a minority shareholder. The startup previously raised $3.5 million.

Skylark, founded in 2017, aims to combine the technical convenience of an online travel agency with the high-touch customer service and knowledge of a traditional agency.

The company is courting travelers in their thirties, forties, and fifties who are comfortable booking online. Baby boomers, who make up a majority of the luxury travel spend today and who tend to book travel offline, will start to travel less over time and be replaced by a rising, digitally savvy generation, said founder and CEO Paul Tumpowsky, who believes Skylark will be positioned to ride the demographic shift.

Skylark, headquartered in New York City, has 11 full-time employees.

>>TravelLocal, an online travel agent that links travelers with local tour operators around the world to build exotic vacations, revealed it recently raised an undisclosed Series A investment round.

Active Partners led the round. Gresham House Ventures also provided funding for the Bristol, UK-based company, founded in 2016 by joint managing directors Huw Owen and Tom Stapleton.

“We are a managed marketplace,” said Owen. “We’re re-engineering the cost base of providing travel agent services for a rising customer segment that wants something more hybrid, digitally savvy, and responsible for local communities.”

>>Rare Planet, a marketplace for authentic Indian crafts as souvenirs, has raised an undisclosed seed round of funding.

Venture Catalysts was the largest investor.

The Kolkata-based souvenir brand, founded in 2014, helps artisans and crafts workers stock and sell their goods to travelers at more than 50 airport and high-end stores. The company has an “asset-light” model.

Rare Planet provides loans and equipment to artisans, provides branding and design help, packages and tags products, and ships stock to stores.

>>TransitScreen, a company that makes it easy for hotels, restaurants, smart cities leadership teams, and other organizations to inform travelers of all of their transportation options to reach venues, has raised $3 million in funding.

TIMIA Capital led the debt financing. The startup has raised $5 million to date and graduated from the 1776 incubator.

The Washington, D.C.-based company makes it easy to compare train times with bus arrivals and other transport options for journeys. Its tool is embeddable on the digital platforms of hotels and other companies.

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: Julian Stiefel (left) and Julian Weselek cofounded Tourlane in 2016. The Berlin-based company, which helps travelers tame the complexity of planning and booking multi-day trips, has raised a Series C round of funding. Tourlane

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