This week, travel startups raised $125 million in funding for RV rentals, short-term rentals, pod hotels, travel agencies, and flight-free itineraries.
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 $125 million in funding.
>>RVshare, a rental marketplace for recreational vehicles, said it had raised more than $100 million in a fundraising round.
KKR led the round.
RVshare, based in Akron, Ohio, has processed rentals of luxury motorhomes, campervans, and travel trailers. Guests have booked more than two million days’ worth of travel through the service since its founding in 2013.
“RVs are the preferred accommodation for the more than 40 million U.S. households that go camping each year,” said Ben Pederson, a principal with KKR’s technology growth team. “Younger generations of travelers are discovering and embracing domestic travel.”
For more context, see our earlier story about how RVs have been a rare winner during coronavirus.
>>Limehome, which offers urban apartments with hotel-style amenities in 45 locations in Germany and Austria, has raised about $11.8 million (€10 million) in an extension to its Series A round.
Existing investors HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Lakestar, and Picus Capital increased their capital investments. This financing the round’s total to about $36 million (€31 million).
The Munich-based hospitality startup will soon open its first locations in Granada, Seville, and Barcelona. Its contactless tech for check-in has proved popular during the pandemic. The company automates a hotel’s conventional processes, such as setting prices, handling reservations and check-in, managing housekeeping, offering customer service, and sending invoices.
“The hotel industry slept through digitization,” said Lars Stänke, co-founder and managing director of Limehome. “Due to our focus on customer needs, concepts such as contactless check-in and access as well as digital invoicing were standard with us from day one. We see that customers are now actively looking for alternatives to the traditional hotel — technology-based models like ours.”
>>CuddlyNest, a travel accommodation booking site and app, has raised $6 million from investors.
The Orlando-based has now raised a total of $10.5 million since its founding in 2017.
CuddlyNest offers hotels, hostels, vacation homes, penthouses, and even recreational vehicles. It aims to charge lower commissions than the global online travel agencies via a booking fee-sharing model with property owners.
“Continuous capital injection into the industry — whether to CuddlyNest or other startups in travel tech — is the clearest indication that investors and stakeholders are optimistic in their forecasting of what is to come,” said Ritesh Raj, CuddlyNest’s co-partner and COO.
>>Stay Open, a startup taking commercial space and re-purposing it to create pod hotels and co-living rentals, has raised $2 million in seed round funding.
A European family office invested with the help of Apex Capital Partners.
The startup’s first project has been in San Diego, where it converted a Budget Rent a Car facility and office building into a 240-bed hotel.
The company’s hotels and residences consist of private modular rooms, each with four to eight private sleeping pods, high-end shared restrooms, large common areas for work or play, food and beverage outlets, and locally-inspired amenities.
>>FindMyAdventure, an online travel site, has raised $600,000 in a seed round from angel investors.
The Karachi-based company, founded in 2016, aggregates travel deals from operators across Pakistan. Komail Naqvi, the founder and CEO, told MENAbytes that without the help of investors and sacrifices from his team, the company wouldn’t have survived the pandemic.
>>Byway, a startup that helps people book flight-free trips in the UK, has received a grant worth about $130,00 (£100,000) from the UK government via Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency.
The grant takes the London-based startup to a total of about $460,000 (£350,000) in funding for a business founded right in March as the UK introduced a lockdown. The grant is a Covid-19 recovery grant.
Current ground-travel route planners (think Google Maps and Rome2Rio) optimize for speed or cost, while Byway strives to optimize for the experience. At the start, its staff plans custom package holidays in the UK that rely on trains, boats, buses, bikes, and ride-hailing as ways to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and experience more local flavor.
The startup is building tech to dynamically package multi-modal ground transportation on a per-customer basis.
One of its sample trips gives travelers a self-guided itinerary from Glasgow in Scotland to the Hebridean Isle of Mull. Services like Google Maps will plot that course in about four-and-a-half hours via a train, ferry, and a bit of walking. Byway offers a nine-hour alternative with a kayak ride in Loch Lomond, a visit to port town Oban (home of the famous Oban whisky), a seafood dinner at a well-regarded restaurant, and an evening ferry to Mull.
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 airstream rental in the desert. RVshare