The future's coming right at you. Investors have backed Reliable Robotics, which builds autonomous aircraft, and Movie Hotel, which brings screening rooms and exclusive studio content to properties.
Travel Startup Funding This Week
Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Senior Travel Tech Editor Sean O’Neill at [email protected] if you have funding news.
This week, travel startups announced more than $35 million in funding.
>>Reliable Robotics, which aims to bring autonomous piloting technology to commercial aviation, recently closed a $25 million Series B round.
Eclipse Ventures led the round. Pathbreaker Ventures and Teamworthy Ventures also invested. The startup had previously raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Ventures.
The company is building the hardware and software needed to retrofit aircraft for fully automated, gate-to-gate, remote operation.
Reliable Robotics has completed successful test flights of remote-piloted passenger airplanes above populated regions. In the first U.S. flight, a remote user interface launched an empty four-passenger Cessna 172 Skyhawk, which automatically taxied, took off, and landed. The company also tested a remote landing of a Cessna 208 Caravan, capable of carrying 14 passengers.
The company said it could apply this technology to any fixed-wing aircraft. It is working with the FAA on incrementally bringing this technology to the market. It has ambitions to retrofit bigger aircraft in the future.
>>Movie Hotel, a company that plans to build hotel rooms that double as private movie screening rooms, has secured $10.8 million (75 million renminbi) in venture financing.
AlphaX Partners led the round and crowd-funding platform Duocaitou helped. The startup, founded in 2017 in Hubei in Fujian, China, also received a credit line of $14.5 million. The funding was first reported by ChinaTravelNews.
Movie Hotel previously raised $14.5 million in a Series A from IDG and Buhuo Ventures.
Movie Hotel is running screenings in almost 50 hotels in smaller cities, and it has more than than 300 properties interested. It has also signed distribution deals for some exclusive content from Chinese studios and film academies.
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.
Photo credit: The Reliable Robotics team poses with an autonomous aircraft at its hangar in San Martin, California. Reliable Robotics