Skift Take

This week, travel startups announced about $9 million in funding. Lucky companies include Frontdesk, a short-term apartment rental manager, ZuBlu, a booking service for underwater adventures, Arcis Tours, which runs BLive-branded electric bike tours in remote Indian locales, and Privadia, a rental agency for luxury villas.

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 about $9 million in funding.

>>Frontdesk, a short-term apartment rental manager, has closed a $6.8 million Series A round.

This financing involves a mix of debt and equity, and it comes on the heels of the Milwaukee-based company’s $2.75 million bridge round, raised in the summer of 2019.

Frontdesk operates in 28 cities with over 500 serviced apartment suites. It recently had to lay off 35 of its 241 workers as a way to conserve cash during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 60,000 people have stayed as guests since the company’s founding in 2017, said Co-Founder and CEO Kyle Weatherly.

>>ZuBlu, a Scuba diving and underwater adventure booking service, has raised $1 million in seed funding.

Wavemaker Partners led the round. Mana Impact and She1k also participated, and the accelerator Betatron has supported the startup.

Travelers interested in dive travel can be intimidated by the booking process. It typically requires research into destinations with the best dive sites and the online vetting of the quality of dive operators.

ZuBlu attempts to reduce the research and booking hassles. The company flags operators with a reputation for ecologically sustainable practices. So far, the service has focused on the Asian diving market, valued at more than $4.5 billion in bookings a year, said co-founders Matthew Oldfield and Adam Broadbent.

There may be money in the dive sector. In 2017, Providence Equity Partners sold scuba certifier Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) to investors for more than $700 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

>>Arcis Tours, which runs electric bike tour brand BLive, has raised an undisclosed amount in a bridge funding round angel investors. The financing brings the company’s total seed funding raised to date to about $1 million from backers such as event management firm DNA Entertainment Networks.

BLive highlights ecologically positive tourism offerings for travelers in remote and rural parts of India. Its flagship product is electric bike trips in destinations such as Goa, Mysore, Gujarat, and Puducherry.

>>Privadia, a villa rental agency and a business-to-business connectivity supplier, raised a seed round of investment.

The round, of an undisclosed amount from angel investors, closed in October but is being disclosed now.

The startup, based in Ibiiza, said it already serves hundreds of pre-inspected, licensed, upscale villas. The company has custom-built an agency portal connecting villa owners to a global network of agency partners.

Privadia said that its platform is tailored toward simplifying the business to business relationships between villa owners, property managers, and villa rental agencies, given that the typical sales chain can be complex due to multiple layers of agencies and management 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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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: Frontdesk, a short-term apartment rental manager, has closed a $6.8 million Series A round in a mix of debt and equity. Frontdesk

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