Skift Take

This week, travel startups DAQ Soft, The Guild, Shep, Hellotickets, Bob, Beonprice, Whizar, IceLolly, and Your Rentals raised funding. It's great that angel investors continue to support early-stage companies.

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 $48 million in funding.

Earlier this week, we reported that The Guild, a hospitality startup, had raised $25 million.

The Guild, based in Austin, operates 800 licensed hotel rooms with apartment-style accommodations in a handful of U.S. cities.

Venture firms Maveron, Convivialite Ventures, and ATX Venture Partners participated in this round of funding. The company previously raised $8.5 million in funding.

In other news, FCM Travel Solutions has taken a minority stake on undisclosed terms in Shep, a business travel startup.

FCM will also use Shep’s tools to understand, monitor, and save on business travel bookings made on more than 70 consumer sites and outside of company policy and formal booking programs. Shep previously disclosed $1.6 million in fundraising, and its CEO was on Skift’s 2018 Corporate Travel Innovators list.

Here are other startups that announced fundings recently:

>>DAQ Soft (Daqi Software), a China-based smart tourism company, has raised $5.8 million (40 million yuan) in an extension to its Series A funding that it first raised in 2017 and whose amount remains undisclosed.

Sichuan Culture Industry Fund led the latest extension of funding.

DAQ Soft, or Daqi Software, offers cloud-based software for tourism developers and operators, including governments. It helps those organizations manage their operations with products branded HuiZheng, HaoJing, and WenChuang.

The company is based in Chengdu, China. Its revenue tripled in the three years to 2017, according to Deloitte. It has more than 420 employees.

>>Hellotickets, an online booking site primarily for travelers looking for events to enjoy at destinations, has closed a second phase of a seed round worth about $3.4 million (€3 million).

Pillar VC led the round. Stephen Kaufer, co-founder and CEO of TripAdvisor, is a limited partner in Pillar VC.

CORRECTION: This article originally described Kaufer as founder, rather than a co-founder, of TripAdvisor, and didn’t make clear Kaufer invested as part of Pillar.

Hellotickets, based in Madrid, will use the funding to expand beyond offering tickets to events like concerts to also selling tours, activities, and sight-seeing experiences. The company expects to sell more than $20 million in tickets this year.

>>Bob, which offers luggage pick-up and deliver for travelers, has raised $3.3 million (€3 million) in funding.

K Fund and Big Sur Ventures joined other investors in the fundraising.

The Madrid-based Bob said its name stands for “bag on board.” It offers services in Madrid and Barcelona for many flights with Iberia, Lufthansa, KLM, and Air France. It picks up luggage, seals it, and delivers it to the airport to check with a carrier.

The company, founded in 2017, is signing commercial deals with travel agencies, hotels, and short-term rental services.

Similar business models to Bob’s are being tried by Airpotr in the UK and by other companies elsewhere.

>>Beonprice, which provides revenue management services to hotels, has raised $2.8 million (€2.5 million) in a Series A round of funding.

Adara Ventures, a fund based in Luxembourg, led the round. The fund Travel Tech, KFund, and IBH also participated.

The company, based in Salamanca, Spain, offers managers at more than 2,000 hotels tools for handling calculations for setting room rates and for improving online distribution.

Beonprice, founded in 2012, expects its customer base to more than double in the next three years, said Rubén Sánchez, co-founder and CEO.

>>Whizar, an airfare prediction startup, has raised a $2.7 million seed round.

Anna Partners led the round. Israeli travel agency Talma Travel and Tours participated.

The Tel Aviv-based startup pinpoints airfares that are likely to drop in price and delays ticketing by travel agencies to the optimal moment. It lets agencies and travel management companies pocket a difference between the time a client requests a reservation and when the agency buys the ticket, said co-founder and CEO Amir Balaish.

Whizar claims it can save businesses sums worth about five percent of ticket prices, on average, by timing the fluctuations in airline pricing for about a third of airfares.

>>Icelolly, an online travel comparison site and app, has raised $2.6 million (£2 million) in venture debt financing.

Silicon Valley Bank led the investment.

IceLolly gathers holiday packages and other travel deals for consumers to book. The company, based in Leeds, in the United Kingdom, said it generated more than 40 million search queries in the past year.

>>Your.Rentals, which offers software to the managers of vacation rentals, has raised about $2.2 million (€2 million) in a seed round from various angel investors.

The Nordic company, founded in 2016, offers tools to help manage properties, bookings, calendars, and payouts on dozens of websites from one account. It stands out from many other providers by letting property managers only pay when receiving a booking rather than on a monthly subscription service.

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.

Check out The Best-Funded Travel Startups Through the End of 2019.


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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: Chinese lucky wish bags cloak a large tree on Jin Li Alley in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, near the headquarters of Daqi Software, which provides services for commerce at tourism destinations like this one. Daqi raised funding this week. David Stanley / Flickr

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