Startups announced funding rounds this week for businesses to make it easier to rent a car, to help hotels manage sales and catering for events, to help consumers plan in-destination meetings, to help travel companies create and sell wellness-themed packages, and other ideas.
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 $150 million in funding.
>>Virtuo, a car rental startup, has closed a $60 million (€50 million) in venture capital plus $36 million (€30 million) in debt.
AXA Venture Partners led the Series C round of funding.
Virtuo was founded in France in 2016 with a focus on a fully digital experience for premium car rentals. But it is now more broadly a car-on-demand service, meaning it offers an alternative to car ownership in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
It’s not a peer-to-peer service like Getaround or Uber, though. Virtuo manages the fleet and plans to add electric vehicles. Before your rental is due to start, customers are able to download a digital car key to their mobile phone and use it to unlock their vehicle. Cars can be returned to designated parking lots where you just drop the vehicle off and walk away.
>>iVvy, a cloud-based event and venue management platform, has raised $5.4 million ($7 million Australian).
Thorney Investment Group and Gandel Invest co-led the round.
“We are grateful to have the support of two of Australia’s premier investment firms,” said iVvy founder and CEO Lauren Hall.
iVvy, founded in 2009, said it brings a modern, holistic, and collaborative approach to sales and catering, helping staff operate more efficiently with streamlined RFPs [request for proposal] and event management. The company claims to have more than 25,000 users across 14 countries.
Hotels, including several Accor brands, are heavy customers.
The startup, based in Queensland, plans to list on the Australian Securities Exchange within the next year. It also plans to speed up American and European customer adoption of its sales and catering software.
“Our funding will not only be used to scale our sales and operations teams globally, but also will allow us to double our development team and accelerate further integrations with PMS [property management systems], POS [point-of-sale], and CRS [central reservation system] providers,” Hall said.
Go is not a travel app. But it has a travel experience angle. It helps people find other people with like-minded interests in real-time at a destination for meeting up. In the first five months since the Auckland launch, Go has enabled people to create more than 1,500 in-person meet-ups. Through the startup’s software, businesses have the unique ability to market to people who are actively searching for their services and making plans in real-time at a destination.
Sean Conrad, co-founder and CEO, previously worked at CouchSurfing. His most recent project was a mobile game called Evil Apples, which consumers have downloaded 25 million times.
Jesse Berns, co-founder and chief scientist, previously worked as an epidemiologist and technical referent for Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization.
>>Vacayou, which helps consumers find and book wellness-themed travel, has raised $3.3 million in combined angel and seed rounds.
Investor and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Relevance Ventures, and others took part.
“Wellness tourism is one of the fastest-growing trends in the travel industry and is projected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2027,” said Muirelle Montecalvo, the startup’s founder and CEO.
Vacayou makes it easier for consumers to find and book spa getaways, wellness retreats, and active vacations, such as a bike tour of California wine country or a yoga retreat in Yucatan, Mexico.
The startup helps operators put wellness-themed packages together and merchandize them.
Founder Montecalvo isn’t a stranger to travel. She sold hotel advertising for the original Expedia in the U.S., launching brand new content. She was the number-one sales rep on the project bringing in the most signed contracts for new hotels in the U.S. when the brand was still unknown. At Groupon, she helped build some of the initial content for the Groupon Getaways platform.
The Gurugram-based company offers a price-comparison search for adventure travel and rates from travel agencies. It also offers tips for mountaineering, river rafting, or other itineraries.
>>Upswing Cognitive Hospitality Solutions, a startup in Pune, India, that offers predictive data tools, has raised a seed round of $150,000 via Framed Venture Capital.
The startup’s software gives hotels a holistic view of their guests.
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 Virtuo customer and their car rental, a Mercedes. Virtuo