This week, travel startups Volocopter, Atlas Obscura, KKDay, AmazingCo, Living Map, Sojourn, and Davinci Travel Systems announced more than $93 million in funding. The venture capital sector clearly isn't spooked by talk of recession in some markets.
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 $93 million in funding.
>>Volocopter, one of the pioneers of electric air taxis, has raised $55.1 million (€50 million) of funding in a Series C round.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a Chinese automaker that owns the Volvo brand, led the round.
Related to the funding, the startup has formed a joint venture with Geely, which now has a minority stake in it, to bring flying cars to China.
In Europe, the VoloCity air taxi aspires to launch commercially by 2023. Rival companies are aiming to build similar products, including Uber, Boeing, Airbus, NEC, and a Toyota-backed project.
Volocopter, which is based in Bruchsal, Germany, has raised about $89.7 million (€88.1 million) to date. For context on why “it’s ludicrous to expect the market to grow beyond a niche offering for the wealthy anytime in the next few decades,” read our explainer on flying taxis.
>>Atlas Obscura, a travel experiences and media company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding.
Airbnb led the round. Other investors include the television conglomerate A+E Networks and New Atlantic Ventures.
Airbnb will begin offering its customers Atlas Obscura trips and events through its platform, which gained fame for its short-term rentals. Up until now, Atlas Obscura was listing some of its own curated experiences and some of the tours offered on the online travel giant, such as a medical science-themed walking tour of Philadelphia led by a public radio journalist.
Atlas Obscura, based in Brooklyn, said it more than half of its revenue comes from facilitating the booking and promotion of trips and local attractions. The Brooklyn-based company, founded in 2009 and led by CEO David Plotz, has publicized having raised about $32 million to date. The company said it has 7 million monthly unique visitors and has sold more than 1 million copies of its books.
Airbnb said it offers 40,000 experiences in more than 1,000 cities. For details, see our Q&A with the company about it from earlier this year.
>>KKDay, a tours and activities online travel agency based in Taiwan, has received $10 million in investment.
Cool Japan Fund, a public-private effort to promote Japan, invested. KKDay will add offices in Japan and will cultivate more experiences, such as by helping to lead KKDay-branded bicycle tours in cooperation with local Japanese authorities.
KKDay has previously raised about $20 million in venture capital from investors including H.I.S., Japan’s largest travel agency.
Taiwan-based KKday has sold branded, or “KKday signature” tours, since 2017. About 20 percent of KKday’s inventory of 20,000 attractions is made up of its official tours. KKday arranges the itineraries, picks the tour guides that wear KKday vests, and hires and brands the buses.
KKDay’s largest rivals are Klook, which claimed this week to have a strong Asian playbook, and Trip.com, which is the international brand of Chinese travel giant Trip Group, which owns the Ctrip brand.
>>AmazingCo, an experiences and activities creator, has raised $3.5 million ($5.1 million Australian) in a Series A round.
Rampersand, Artesian Capital and Macdoch Ventures, and angel investors Jasper and Rob Phillpot participated in the funding. The startup has raised about $5 million ($7.4 million Australian) to date.
AmazingCo, a booking platform and tour operator, recently began offering experiences in 23 U.S. cities. By early next year, it hopes to be in about 50 cities worldwide.
The startup was founded by a married couple, Jeremy Cox and Silvia Hope, along with another co-founder Nick Brozovic, in 2012.
>>Living Map, a travel startup focused on next-generation digital mapping, has raised $3.2 million (£2.6 million).
Committed Capital and Mercia Technologies, via its EIS funds, participated in the round. The startup has raised about $4.7 million (£3.8 million) in total.
Living Map’s platform aims to give cities and businesses a way to manage and communicate the most important information about their buildings. Its tech is in use at London’s Heathrow Airport and at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (shown online, here).
The company, founded in 2010, said it would use the funding to debut a new software package. It’s marketing its software to large indoor venues including airports, retail sites, hospitals, and smart cities. It said the software could work indoors and outdoors and that the mapping tool can import data from sensors that locate and track people and assets in real-time.
>>Davinci Travel System, a Prague-based travel startup focused on group bookings, has raised a $2.3 million (€2.1 million) seed round of investment.
Reflex Capital led the round, with contributions from Seedcamp and J&T Ventures.
Davinci is developing a business-to-business platform for group hotel booking. It has 10,000 hotels and more than 300 tour operators as customers. It automates the effort to process group reservations, which today often has many manual steps.
The startup, founded in 2017, has 25 full-time employees. Last year, its revenue growth was 300 percent year-over-year against an undisclosed base, said co-founders CEO Alex Ilyash and Vadim Chumak, chief technology officer.
>>Sojourn, a full-service, short-term vacation rental brand, has raised an undisclosed seed investment.
Redwood Ventures led the round.
Sojourn, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is similar to Sonder in its model of entering into long-term leases with property developers, fixing up properties, marketing the units for short-term stays online, and then managing the guests.
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.
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Photo credit: VoloCity is an aircraft that that might carry two people plus luggage for about 50 miles. It is the lead product of Volocopter, a German startup that has just raised $55 million in additional funding. Volocopter