Skift Take

Startups announcing funding this week include Mindsay, a travel chatbot maker, Interprefy, a service for providing remote interpreters for events, Airfree, a service that sells duty-free products online during flights, and Airblack, a social-travel commerce startup.

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 $16 million in funding.

Earlier this week, Mindsay raised a $10 million Series A round with participation by Accor and Groupe ADP (Paris Airports).

DataArt, a technology consultancy for multiple sectors whose clients include Travelport and Apple Leisure Group, announced an undisclosed equity funding round led by the German development finance institution DEG.

Here are the other travel startup fundings revealed this week:

>>Interprefy, a remote simultaneous interpreting service, has raised about $2.8 million (2.875 Swiss franc), bringing its total early-stage financing raised to around $6.3 million (6.35m Swiss franc).

Technologiefonds, a Swiss government-backed fund, contributed to the round.

Until now, event producers seeking real-time translations at their events have needed interpreters and their equipment to be onsite and often have to fly in specialist interpreters when none are available locally. Interprefy instead deploys its app-based technology to let the interpretation happen remotely and thus more cost-effectively.

Kim Ludvigsen, founder and CEO of Interprefy, said the Zurich-based startup has 500 interpreters worldwide that have trained on its platform, but events producers don’t need to use the interpreters in its database to use its technology.

>>Airfree, an inflight duty-free product marketplace, has raised a seed round of about $2.5 million (€2.3 million).

Shiseido Group, which has a travel retail business, participated in the funding. Airfree took part in the startup accelerator Starburst and is currently in the Singapore Airlines’ Accelerator Program Krislab.

The 10-employee company, founded in 2016 in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, aims to help airport duty-free retailers sell their goods to passengers during flights. Shoppers collect the goods on arrival at their destination.

Etienne de Verdelhan, co-founder and CEO, claimed the Airfree platform uses 50 times less satellite internet bandwidth, on average, than a traditional e-commerce website would.

>>Airblack, a social-travel commerce startup, received $1.5 million in seed funding.

SAIF Partners, an Asia-focused venture capital firm, led the round in the New Delhi-based startup.

Launched in February, the Gurgaon-based startup points travelers to travel experts it identifies via WhatsApp and Instagram. Remarkably, co-founders Pulkit Pujara and Videt Jaiswal were formerly investors at SAIF Partners.

Some people say you should never try to launch a social travel planning startup. However, the rise of last-minute bookable destination activities and the cresting wave of social sharing via apps like Instagram, Line, and WeChat suggest maybe there’s room for a new wave of social travel companies.

In the past year, Travello, an Australia-based social travel app, raised $3.6 million ($5 million Australian) in funding from a consortium of investors. TripAdvisor debuted a new homepage with a semi-personalized feed of recommendations and advice.

On a historical note, the largest explicitly social travel startup, Where Are You Now (WAYN) was acquired for $1.2 million by Lastminute Group in 2016, despite having raised $11 million from investors. Another, Triposo, was acquired last year by Musement for an undisclosed sum.

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, meetings and events, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: An image of the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. Interprefy is a startup that aims to provide remote interpreters for events. United Nations

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