Skift Take

The RVezy funding is yet another sign that the outdoor sector is booming. Other startups to announce funding this week include a Saudi version of Airbnb and an American version of BlaBlaCar.

Series: Startups This Week

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 so@skift.com if you have funding news.

This week, travel startups announced more than $25 million in funding.

>>RVezy, a peer-to-peer marketplace for renting recreational vehicles (RVs) and campervans in North America, has raised about $19 million ($23 million Canadian dollars).

Investor Markus Frind, founder of the online dating app Plenty of Fish, made the venture funding through his family’s office, Frind Properties. Michelle Romanow, cast member of CBC’s Dragon’s Den and co-founder of Clearco, made a small seed investment after the founder appeared on the TV show.

The company, based in Ottawa and with 54 employees, began in 2017 with a focus on Canada. A year ago it expanded to the U.S., and it now says it has nearly 10,000 American RV owners listing through it. The company faces competition from Outdoorsy and RVshare, which are better funded startups.

Since late February, RVezy has regularly surpassed $1 million in weekly bookings. The Globe and Mail first reported on the fundraising.

>>Gathern, a Riyadh-based startup that helps travelers book short-term rentals of alternative accommodations, has raised a $6 million (22 million Saudi riyals) in Series A funding.

Saudi venture capital firm STV led the round. Vision Ventures, 500 Startups, Saudi businessman Naef Sultan AlAthel, and ARG Limited also took part. Arab News first reported the round.

The company, founded in 2017 by co-founder and CEO Latifa Altamimi, is the first to get a license for offering these rentals online. It offers an Airbnb-like range of accommodation in more than 100 destinations in Saudi Arabia.

“If you become a host on our platform, you simply list your villa, apartment, farm, caravan, room, chalet, camp, or yacht, which allows you to earn significant additional income,” said Altamimi.

The funding comes after a year of record-breaking domestic leisure travel in the kingdom. It also comes as Saudi Arabia launched a new destination management company, liberalized the process for applying for visas (see “Saudi Arabia’s New Tourism Frontier Explained“), and began heavily supporting online travel companies while also creating a $530 million fund to develop key destinations.

>>Hitch, which offers long-distance, inter-city ride-sharing, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed investment from Lombardstreet Ventures.

Hitch connects riders and drivers headed to the same city, similar to Europe’s well-funded startup BlaBlaCar.

The startup also recently introduced a premium service that lets users book private rides run daily anywhere within 50 miles of its destination network in Texas, and it has experimented with offering a shipping and delivery service.

Founded by CEO Kush Singh in Austin, Hitch aims to expand beyond its network in Texas.

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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Tags: funding, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: A recreational vehicle rented via RVezy. RVezy

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