This week, travel startups announced more than $24 million in funding. These companies help automate travel visa applications, offer installment loans for vacations, streamline corporate travel expenses, run glamping stays in Catalonia, help visitors book trip experiences in Qatar, and more.
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 $24 million in funding.
>>Sherpa, a travel tech startup, raised $8.5 million in venture equity funding.
Narrative Fund and True Ventures led the round. Relay Ventures, TSVC, Globalive Capital, N49P, Plug and Play Ventures, Golden Ventures, Stuart MacDonald (founder of Expedia.ca), and LP Maurice (founder and CEO of Busbud) also invested.
Founded by CEO Max Tremaine and Ivan Sharko, the Toronto-based company has a current focus on helping travelers cope with the complexities of crossing borders during a pandemic. The company has raised $9 million in total since its start in 2015.
“In 2019, administering travel documents like visas cost airlines more than $1 billion, and new travel rules are making this issue more acute,” said Tremaine. “By presenting the right information and ensuring that travelers have what they need to cross borders, we are making a meaningful difference for trust in travel.”
Sherpa recently signed partnerships with Expedia, Americans Airlines, TripActions, Icelandair, and The Travel Corporation. These companies tap the startup’s data feeds to give travelers current information about travel restrictions at their destination. The tech also lets travelers add a visa application to their cart when buying flights, streamlining the process.
“Until Sherpa, this has mostly been powered by analog technology and brick-and-mortar businesses,” said Jamie Wong, partner at Narrative Fund. Sherpa uses tools to pinpoint changes in travel rules and to translate jargon into checklists.
>>Fly Now Pay Later, a financial technology firm focused on travel, raised a further $14 million in funding, bringing its Series A round total to $62 million (£45 million) of equity, but mostly debt, investment.
Revenio Capital and Taurus Wealth Advisors co-led the round.
CEO Jasper Dykes founded the London-based company in late 2015. It lets travelers pay the cost of a trip in up to 12 monthly installments. Hundreds of travel companies, including Malaysian Airlines, Lastminute.com, Kayak, and the airline payments network Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP) for European Union merchants, offer the startup’s mix of interest-free and interest-bearing consumer loans.
Fly Now Pay Later has been beta testing its technology in the U.S., where it will face some competition from players like Uplift. The UK startup has 70 team members across the UK and Europe.
>>Okticket, a startup focusing on the digitization of travel expenses, has raised about $840,000 (€700,000) in a seed round of funding.
Encomenda Smart Capital and Successful Ventures led the round.
Founded in late 2017, the Asturias, Spain-based startup has developed a recognition engine capable of extracting data from documents quickly. It has an end-to-end travel expense management process for businesses and corporations and can integrate with major company accounting systems. It claims to have more than 70,000 users at more than 3,000 companies in Spain and Portugal.
>>Viavii, a booking brand for travel experiences, has raised an undisclosed sum in seed funding.
Tech Venture Fund, managed by Qatar Science and Technology Park, led the round.
ViaVii is a Jordan-based online startup that aims to help travelers book travel experiences hosted by residents of Qatar.
In a few months, ViaVii will launch a digital itinerary planner for Qatar’s Fifa World Cup tournament in 2022. Several websites aimed at visitors to Qatar for the sporting event will include the itinerary planner, said ViaVii founder and CEO Rola Fayyad.
ViaVii points travelers to taking a cooking class, spending the night in the desert with a guided group, and or booking a heritage-themed walking tour.
>>Kampaoh, a glamping startup in Seville, Spain, has raised $360,000 (€300,000) in a round led by Encomenda Smart Capital.
Kampaoh has offered fully-equipped tented vacation experiences to more than 50,000 guests in scenic spots since its founding in 2016.
>>Oasis Hunters, a travel startup helping vacationers find less-visited rural getaways, has raised $160,000 (€135,000) in seed funding mostly from angel investors.
Founded in July 2020, the company participated in the AticcoLab startup accelerator. The funding will let it expand from a focus on Catalonia to across Spain.
>>Atravo, a tourism management platform, has obtained a $120,000 (€100,000) financing through a seed capital round led by venture capital Think Bigger Capital.
Atravo, led by CEO Katrina Affleck, helps tour operators, experience and activity operators, and hotels manage their marketing campaigns and handle users’ bookings. The team emerged from the Demium Startups incubation program.
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: Malaysia Airlines takes delivery of its first Airbus A350-XWB aircraft, shown here taxiing. Malaysian Airlines is a business customer of startup Fly Now Pay Later, and customers looking to travel internationally can use startup Sherpa's tools to book visas to Malaysia. Airbus