Ten travel startups collectively announced more than $167 million in funding lately. Concepts included the online booking of tour guides, tour packages, Vietnamese domestic travel, Indian hotels, and e-visas.
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 $167 million in funding.
>>GetYourGuide, the experiences booking agency, has raised a $134 million (€114 million) convertible debt note. All investors including largest backer Softbank participated, and the round added a new investor, Searchlight.
“The loan will convert into equity at the next round or an initial public offering,” said a spokesperson for the Berlin-based company.
The company announced the move a couple of weeks after announcing layoffs of 100 workers.
Allen & Company, Alaris Family Office, and several other individual and family offices participated.
Since launching online bookings in 2015, the company has helped more than 250,000 boaters reserve time and space at more than 15,000 marinas.
A 2019 study from the National Marine Manufacturers Association found that the recreational boating industry contributes an estimated $170.3 billion to the U.S. economy. But much of the outdoor sector remains a pen-and-paper business, hinting at a broad opportunity, the company said.
Vntrip is cagey about how much it has raised, but media reports said the startup had raised a total of $20 million since its founding in 2014.
The agency focuses on domestic travel. Given that the pandemic is under control at the moment in Vietnam, the agency has seen a rebound in bookings.
>>Exoticca, a Barcelona-based online travel agency that focuses on “affordable luxury” tours and vacation packages, closed a round of $5.8 million (€5 million).
Milano Investment Partners led the round. K Fund, Bonsai Partners, Pase Capital, Kibo Ventures, and Sabadell Venture Capital also took part. The investors and company structured the financing as an extension of a $12.9 million (€11 million) Series B round closed in July 2019.
Exoticca aims to digitize the long-standing agent-driven model for creating tour packages including flights, hotels, activities, and ground transportation with the help of on-the-ground experts.
“We believe that this is the right time to invest to build a global category leader in package tours,” said CEO Pere Vallès. The company is currently present in Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia, offering packages to about 50 long-haul destinations worldwide.
Exoticca plans to invest in technology and product and possibly make an acquisition. Its model is similar to other startups like Evaneos, which has raised more than $108 million, and Tourlane, a multi-day booking operator that has raised about $34 million.
>>Sherpa, a travel visa service, revealed this week that it closed a $2.5 million ($1.8 million Canadian) seed funding round a year ago.
True Ventures, Narrative Fund, and Relay Ventures took part in the round. Erik Blachford, a former Expedia CEO and current venture investor via the Narrative fund, has been a supporter.
Sherpa, based in Toronto and founded in 2015, has signed about 40 partners such as American Airlines and Intrepid Travel to its service that helps travelers know what documents and visa applications they might need for international trips. For example, its technology alerts someone with flights booked to visit the U.S. whether they need an Electronic System for Travel Authorization and how to get it if they don’t have it.
The product that is currently winning the startup business, its API, was released in December 2018. Beyond alerts, Sherpa’s API (application programming interface) enables travel companies to apply for eVisas, deliver those visas, and validate that the passenger is good to go, inside of their digital products as an ancillary product. The startup takes a cut of the service fee a partner charges the traveler.
Sherpa also has drop-in widgets that handle the process while remaining within the site or app of the travel company partner. The API enables seamless integration, where a visa can be bundled with a ticket purchase. Business Insider has published Sherpa’s pitch deck.
>>Journera, a data exchange platform for the travel industry, announced an unspecified investment from Amadeus Ventures. The injection came only a few months after the Chicago-based startup closed a $11.6 million Series B funding round.
“A number of leading players in the U.S. travel industry, our home market, are already working with us. These include Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, United Airlines and American Airlines to name a few,” said Journera CEO Jeff Katz in a post on an Amadeus blog.
>>Treebo, an Indian budget hotel chain startup, raise about $1.4 million (100 million rupee) in a round funded by angel investors. The sum adds to the $6 million funding round the Bangalore-based company raised earlier this month from Matrix Partners India, SAIF Partners, and other investors.
“Before the pandemic unfolded, Treebo had a strong growth trajectory, and we were well on our way to hit EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] profitability within this calendar year,” Treebo Hotels co-founder Sidharth Gupta said in a statement.
Treebo has a model that overlaps with Oyo and Fab Hotels and other brands such as RedDoorz outside of India.
>>TourPlus, a travel experiences booking service, has raised $1 million in seed funding.
Jin Hui Wong, GT-MAX, and SOSV’s accelerator Chinaccelerator were among the investors in the startup, based in the Sepang District of Malaysia.
The startup’s consumer-facing app plays a matchmaker between travelers and local guides. The app also suggests ideal itineraries and offers ground transport. It has signed up about 3,000 tour guides across Southeast Asia and has served 10,000 users, according to The Star.
>>Neu, which offers Airbnb hosts “hotel-grade turnovers” while following pandemic-related cleanliness protocols, has raised a $700,000 round.
New Stack Ventures led the round in the Seattle-based startup, a graduate of the Techstars accelerator.
Company CEO Kwame Boler formerly worked at Boeing as an engineer, and chief technology officer Claudius Mbemba formerly worked at Microsoft as an engineer. Puget Sound Business Journal first reported the new funding.
>>SanMaoYou, a Chinese travel culture content provider, has recently raised “tens of millions of yuan,” or at least more than $1.5 million, in an extension to an undisclosed Series A round of investment last November.
New Oriental Education & Technology led the round, reported by 36Kr, which also said the startup now has 6 million paying users for its services.
SanMaoYou, founded in 2015 in Guangzhou, provides maps and voice-powered tour guides via traveler’s mobile phones for 10,000 locales, mostly in China. It has more than 50 employees.
Note: The weekly startup funding roundup will be on vacation next week. See you again on November 13. For something to read in the meantime, check out “Airline Tech Startups Try to Adapt to Brutal Sales Market and “Biz Travel Booker Lola Fills Void by Following Rivals With New Expense Tool Breakout.”
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: A walking tour of the Coliseum in Rome booked via GetYourGuide, an online travel agency. GetYourGuide