Startups that got funding this week included Xband, which runs model villages in China, Lanes & Planes, a travel management company, Oaky, a specialist in hospitality upselling, Revl, an automated souvenir video service, and Viselio, a visa application simplifier.
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 $57 million in funding.
In a related note, AvantStay, a short-term rental brand focused on helping people plan, book, and enjoy group trips, has received a long-term debt facility from Pacific Western Bank. The startup didn’t disclose the amount but said it was an eight-figure sum. AvantStay closed an approximately $20 million Series A fundraise in September.
Here are other startup announcements from the past week.
>>Xband, a cultural tourism business in China, has raised $28 million (200 million yuan) in a Series B funding round.
TBP Country Living, an arm of private equity fund Trustbridge Partners, led the round.
The company previously raised about $10 million in investment from a CYTS Hongqi fund, which is backed by travel service company CYTS, IDG Capital, and Sequoia Capital. Seed investors in the business included Cambrian and Qixi Capital.
Founded in 2016, Xband creates rural villages that can serve domestic tourists. Its brands now include running bed-and-breakfasts in buildings constructed and designed to appeal to tourists, not unlike a theme park or model village. Its business units include a short-term rental brand, a homestay brand, and a planning design studio and construction company. Zhu Shengxuan, an architect, is the founder and chairman.
>>Lanes & Planes, a provider of tools to manage business travel and expenses, said it had closed a $10 million Series A round of financing.
Battery Ventures led the round. DN Capital and previous investor Connect Ventures also participated.
Munich-based Lanes & Planes is similar to other next-generation travel management companies, such as TripActions, TravelPerk, TravelStop, and Lola, which are built on a cloud-first model and which target businesses with as few as 10 frequent travelers first.
Somewhat differently to other players, Lanes & Planes offers tools not only for managing bookings but also for managing trip expenses.
In the European market, one problem has been to make sure a company’s accounting department can track value-added tax (VAT) and multiple currencies. A related issue has been having to keep an audit trail and maintain near-real-time sync with a company’s enterprise resource planning system. The startup said it does a superior job at both tasks. Its clients include companies like Edding, Herma, Personio, and eGym.
“During the first couple of years [since founding Lanes & Planes in 2017], we focused entirely on product development,” said Veit Blumschein, co-founder and CEO of Lanes & Planes. “We will use this investment primarily to expand our customer portfolio in Germany.”
>>Oaky, a service that helps hotels upsell guests before they arrive, has raised $9.5 million in a Series A round.
PeakSpan Capital led the round.
“Having grown to around 1,500 hotels across 90 countries in EMEA and APAC, we’re excited to use part of the new investment to fuel geographic expansion to North America,” said Oaky co-founder Erik Tengen.
Oaky will partly use the funds to grow its team at its Amsterdam headquarters and its Singapore office and to also expand into North America.
The startup has clients that include global enterprise chains like Radisson Hotel Group in Europe and Asia, independent hotel groups like Apex Hotels, hostel chains, and independent properties. It also offers integrations with many hotel property management systems, channel managers, and online travel agencies.
>>Revl, an automated video capture and editing service, raised $5.5 million in Series A funding.
Nimble Ventures led the round.
Revl isn’t a travel startup, but many travel companies, including two major cruise lines and several theme parks and zip-line operators, use its service.
“There’s a reason why this hasn’t been done before,” said Eric Sanchez, co-founder and CEO of Revl. “Editing and delivering fully customized video souvenirs of epic experiences in real time is computationally and programmatically very difficult.”
“We’ve leveraged the power of AI and parallel processing to build a fully automatic system that edits and delivers HD cinematic video souvenirs instantly,” said Sanchez. “Just like you would expect on the Splash Mountain ride but with a video instead of just a photo, for example. Our goal is to make our technology vertical agnostic in the next one to two years so it can be used in almost any kind of adventure or activity.”
>>Viselio, a visa application processing startup, has raised $3.1 million (3 million Swiss francs) in early-stage funding from EquityPitcher and Howzat Partners.
The Swiss start-up, founded three years ago and now with 38 workers, aims to simplify the visa application process at 83 destinations with its software. The startup currently serves seven European markets, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
“Viselio solves a real, existing problem that currently still makes the booking of journeys unnecessarily complicated,” said Sascha Horrig of EquityPitcher.
>>Evenito, a set of software tools for event managers, has raised $1.8 million (€1.6 million) in a seed financing round, backed by multiple private investors.
Evenito, founded in 2016, has online tools to help professionals manage events ranging in size from 50 attendees to more than 2,000 attendees. It has focused on the markets in Switzerland and Germany so far.
It has served more than 200 customers working for brands like Oracle, Swiss Life, Breitling, Huawei, DZ Bank, Swiss Economic Forum, and Allergan, said Nicolas Berchten, the startup’s co-founder and co-CEO. For more context on the sector, see Skift’s sister brand Event MB.
>>Kombo, a metasearch booking engine for long-distance transport in Europe, has received a $435,000 (€400,000) bridge financing from the founders of Capitaine Train, a booking engine that The Trainline bought for $190 million in 2016.
The financing brings the startup’s total funding to a bit more than $1 million, with contributions by angel investors Nicolas Brumelot (co-founder of Go Voyages and Misterfly), Pierre Bonelli (of Liligo), and Patrick Dalsace (of The Fork).
Kombo is a reservation engine for European intercity bus, train, and peer-to-peer car-sharing, representing brands like SNCF, Renfe, and BlaBlaCar and more than 250 bus companies.
“We are the only site in the world selling Flixbus tickets,” said Matthieu Marquenet, CEO at Kombo. (FlixBus has grown rapidly in popularity in Europe in recent years, and the parent company, FlixMobility, raised $561 million in a Series F round last year.)
Marquenet said Kombo company’s superior technology appealed to suppliers and consumers.
“New operators such as Flixtrain, Thello, and Renfe are preparing their arrival in France,” Marquenet noted. “We are already selling SNCF tickets, and we are giving ourselves a year to offer all of the 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. 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: An image from a model village building in a cultural and creative theme town in China. Xband is the design and operation management team behind it, and the startup has just announced a Series B round of funding. Xband