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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 $77 million in funding.

>>ZoloStays Property Solutions, a tech-enabled a co-living startup, has raised about $56 million in a Series C round of funding.

Investcorp led the round. Nexus Venture Partners, Mirae Asset, and Trifecta Capital also participated. The startup, based in Bengaluru, India, has raised about $90 million to date.

Zolo offers shared and private rooms for rent at more than 450 properties across 10 Indian cities, including Gurugram, Hyderabad, and Chennai. It claims to have served more than 125,000 people over its history since 2015.

The company isn’t a travel startup, per se, but many hotel companies and corporate extended-stay brands have considered investing in the general business concept.

The jury is still out on whether “co-living” has hit a speed bump or not. Will the experience of remote work lead to more digital nomads than ever? Or are shared spaces and revenue crunches making the concept less appealing?

Zolo, led by a team of health experts, said it has pandemic-related precautions in place. It claimed the Indian co-living market could be worth between $6 billion a year and $10 billion a year over the next several years, driven partly by young people in the so-called “post-graduation” segment.

Zolo is launching a luxury brand called Zolo Red Carpet with micro-living spaces that will come with access to wellness studios, cafes, workspaces, and concierges.

>>Butler Hospitality, a cloud kitchen for hotels, has raised a $15 million Series A round. Today it uses online ordering, data, and its own recipes to provide room service to about 120 hotels in New York City.

Investors like &vest, Kraft Group, Scopus Ventures, and Mousse Partners participated in the round.

Butler, founded in 2016 by CEO Premtim Gjonbalic, has a culinary team that works out of four hotel kitchens in New York City. Its workers can deliver meals “on demand” to more than 30,000 rooms across the city.

The startup hopes to enter Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., by the end of the year.

>>Ferryhopper, a startup offering reservation software for ferry services, has raised about $3 million (€2.6 million).

LauncHub Ventures was the main investor. Metavallon, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s EasyGroup, and other private investors participated. The Athens-based startup previously raised about $680,000 (€600,000).

Ferryhopper debuted in 2017, and its ticketing system can handle complex bookings, such as combined routes to islands that do not have direct ferry connections. The company has sold more than 800,000 tickets online for more than 300 Mediterranean ports of call, it said.

The startup launched the easyFerry service for EasyGroup-branded services in Greece and Italy last year. The company has 37 workers today and hopes to employ 50 people by the end of the year.

>>Koala, an insurance technology startup, has closed a seed financing round of about $1.81 million (€1.6 million).

Insurtech Gateway led the round. Playfair Capital, Techstars Ventures, and other private investors, including Peter Davies (the former CEO of Air Malta, Caribbean Airlines, and Brussels Airlines) participated.

Koala’s first product is flight disruption insurance. The Paris-based company, founded in 2018, aims to offer “instant,” cash compensation for flight delays and cancellations for “any reason.”

Over the next few months, the flight insurance will become available in the online booking journeys of two as-yet-unnamed airlines and four travel agencies, said Ugo Weyl, co-founder and CEO.

>>Tripgrid raises $1.5 million to focus on helping businesses plan “team travel.” A set of private investors invested in the company.

Tripgrid, based in Portland, Oregon, aims to solve some problems businesses face in booking group travel by replacing spreadsheets and email chains with project management solution.

Some of their customers are in TV/movie production, sports, and professional services. The company says it integrates with the booking tools used by major travel management companies and that its software can parse the words in emails to pull out relevant details.

Tripgrid took part in SAP.iO Foundry’s San Francisco Spring 2020 accelerator program and is being integrated into the SAP Concur App Center.

>>Rove, a travel tech firm focused on adventure-based tourism, has raised about $500,000 (€450,000) in seed funding.

Zoosh Ventures and Enterprise Ireland led the round.

The startup operates a cloud-based booking technology that aims to take the friction out of booking the best adventure-themed experiences in locales worldwide.

>>Questo, a startup offering city exploration games, has raised about $400,000 (€300,000).

Sparking Capital led the round. Early Game Ventures also took part.

Questo offers a mobile app that helps travelers and locals explore destinations by going on tours. By the end of 2020, it aims to have coverage for 100 cities. It has recently received the “Most Disruptive Travel Start-up of 2019 in Hospitality” award from United Nations World Tourism Organization.

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: Co-living means living with a lot of color, at least in India. Here's an example of extended-stay lodging from Zolo, a startup based in Gurgaon, India. Zolo

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