This week travel startups announced more than $64 million in funding. Investors backed innovations in extended-stay lodging, food waste management, voice-powered instructions for airline and hotel workers, help for distressed visitors in India, and event planning tools.
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 $64 million in funding.
>>Blueground, a real estate company that provides extended-stay lodging for stays of a month or longer, has raised $50 million in a Series B round.
WestCap Investment Partners and Prime Ventures led the round. WestCap’s founding partner, Laurence Tosi, had been the chief financial officer of Airbnb until recently and, before that, was the chief financial officer of Blackstone, a private equity firm.
By the end of this year, Blueground plans to begin offering people places to stay in London, Paris, and Seattle. The company has amassed more than 2,800 apartments in residential buildings in nine cities. It has raised a total of $78 million in equity funding.
Every Blueground apartment is fully furnished and loaded with amenities and services so that a guest only has to turn up and gain access to high-speed Wi-Fi and so forth. Business travelers can arrive and merely “plug in” to existing tech services, such as cable TV and internet, along with amenities, such as gym memberships.
Similar to what WeWork offers in its flagship product of co-working spaces, Blueground aims to provide for extended-stay apartment rentals — though, hopefully, Blueground will become profitable more quickly than WeWork has.
>>Winnow, a tech company aiming to tame food wasted, announced a $12 million Series B round.
Ingka Group and Mustard Seed led the round in the company, which previously received an $8 million loan from the European Investment Bank.
Winnow is not a travel startup, but the British company uses artificial intelligence to help companies cut food waste significantly, and that offering might appeal to many hospitality companies, such as hotels with food-and-beverage operations. The Armani Hotel in Dubai is a customer, for instance.
The startup takes photos of wasted food as it’s thrown away and uses the images to recognize what’s being discarded and help develop a plan to reduce future waste.
>>Whispr, a voice guidance startup, has raised $750,000 in seed investment backed by Seedcamp and Bose Ventures.
The Copenhagen-based startup offers voice-powered instructions via earphones that prompt workers at companies — especially in the hospitality sector — do their jobs better. It whispers instructions into workers’s ears as they work, such as helping workers at one Radisson Blu property clean guest rooms.
International Airlines Group (IAG) ‘s startup accelerator, Hangar 51, has just admitted Whispr. The startup will work with Iberia to help boost the speed and efficiency of the airline’s aircraft turnarounds. It will also help to digitize a complicated aircraft inspection documentation process for the Spanish airline’s new fleet of Airbus 350s, said Whispr CEO Hugh O’Flanagan.
>>Bizly, whose software lets employees create and manage in-person meetings and events, has raised $1.5 million in funding.
JetBlue Technology Ventures participated along with angel investor Eric Yuan, the co-founder of internet communications service Zoom, and other investors.
The New York City-based startup’s latest product offers custom-crafted templates to make event planning and management more organized. Tools enable collaboration on project management, guest lists, and branded invites, said CEO Ron Shah. Bizly has a repository of 20,000 venues for event organizers to consider.
>>India Assist, a subscription-based mobile app service for foreign visitors to India who are in distress and need to find assistance, has raised $1 million in seed funding from an undisclosed U.S. investor.
The app acts as a middleman service linking a traveler needing help due to a health problem, a theft, or other distress, with the appropriate support. The service has started with New Delhi, where the company is based.
Financial backers include ProUrba and the Euronews media group. The company is participating in startup accelerator Le Tremplin in Paris and at Le Village by Crédit Agricole.
Runnin’City allows users to explore neighborhoods while jogging or walking in more than 200 cities.
Mile Positioning Solutions has signed as clients the cities of Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Valencia, and Leuven, said co-founder Olivier Lebleu.
The company won this year’s United Nations World Tourism Organization’s sports tourism startup competition, which is backed by the Barcelona football club team and the Qatar National Tourism Council.
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. These fundraising rounds can assist in 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: A model resident, or at least a model pretending to be a resident, simulates life at a Blueground managed extended stay apartment. Blueground was one of several startups that announced fundraising in the past week. Blueground