Skift Take

It's reassuring that JetBlue Technology Ventures is still actively investing after founder Bonny Simi's recent departure. But it's a bit of a headscratcher to see Accor investing in Treebo for its hotel software, given that the hospitality group has its own tech subsidiary D-Edge.

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 Travel Tech Reporter Justin Dawes at [email protected] if you have funding news.

This week, travel startups announced more than $30 million in funding.

>>Transparent, a vacation rental market intelligence company, has received an undisclosed investment from JetBlue Tech Ventures (JTV), the venture capital subsidiary of JetBlue Airways.

The round brought the startup’s total funding raised to date to $2.8 million from investors, including K Fund, Highgate Ventures, and Kima Ventures.

“Given JetBlue’s interest in offering short-term rental options to its customers and the travel industry’s recent demand volatility, accurate data is imperative to making sound business decisions,” said Ryan Chou, an investment associate at JTV.

JetBlue said last November that it was planning to cross-sell its customers on non-flight products such as short-term rentals using a partner but marketing the rentals through a brand it owns, likely operating customer service in-house, as Skift reported.

Transparent pulls together a mix of first-party data from professional managers of vacation rentals and publicly available data on vacation rental market conditions. Its tools let players study trends, such as property management companies, hotel companies, destination marketing organizations, and distribution companies. Transparent tracks average daily rates, average lengths of stay, and average occupancies while keeping an eye on competitors and identifying new sources of demand.

Transparent was founded in 2016 by CEO Pierre Becerril, Nil Sanz, and Drew Patterson. It uses technology to recognize and de-duplicate listings that appear across multiple sources to provide more accurate insights.

“The fact that an airline is investing in us underscores how the vacation rental industry has changed in the past five years,” Becerril said.

JetBlue separately announced on Thursday that it had named Amy Burr president of its venture capital subsidiary. Burr succeeds Bonny Simi, JTV’s founder. Simi recently joined JTV portfolio company Joby Aviation, a builder of electric aircraft, in December 2020 as its head of air operations and people.

Burr said in an interview that JTV would continue to invest in startups. It recently invested in the startup Universal Hydrogen, aiming to create carbon-free flights, and with another startup investment, likely with a sustainability theme, to be revealed later this year.

Burr said her team also works extensively in helping decision-makers at JetBlue understand market opportunities in technology. Her team recently spent a 12-week strategy review for JetBlue’s environmental services group (ESG). The JTV team has just kicked off a project to help the company with payments technology and processes.

>>Treebo, a travel startup in India, said it has raised $16 million in a Series D funding round.

Accor Hotels led the round. Bennett Coleman & Company Limited (owner of The Economic Times), Elevation Capital, Matrix Partners, Bertelsmann, and Ward Ferry also participated in the round.

Accor has begun to deploy Treebo’s cloud-based hotel management software at some properties. Accor Group CEO and Chairman Sébastien Bazin discussed the announcement with Treebo’s team on a video call.

Treebo, based in Bengalaru, is a branded aggregator of more than 500 budget hotels in dozens of cities in India that has faced steep competition from larger rival Oyo. Treebo and another similar brand, FabHotels, have been pursuing an antitrust case against MakeMyTrip Group related to allegations the online travel giant stopped distributing their rooms because Oyo insisted on an exclusivity clause.

Treebo last year launched a software service called Hotel Superhero, which offers property management software based on a monthly fee tied to the number of room-nights sold through the system. The software suite helps hoteliers manage bookings, plan rates, manage distribution channels, collect customer information in a structured way, and feed data into financial reporting systems.

The funding has enabled the company to bring back about 65 workers who left during the pandemic on a paid voluntary resignation scheme supported by the government.

Treebo has raised more than $69 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

>>Velocity Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm with a focus on technology within the hospitality and travel industry in Southeast Asia, is raising a $20 million fund.

Meanwhile the firm has made its first two investments, said Nicholas Cocks, founder and managing partner. The investments included one in Zuzu Hospitality, a Singapore-based hotel revenue and distribution management software solution serving independent hotel companies, and another one in Aigens, a cloud-based tool to support online ordering of food and beverage. The firm didn’t disclose the investment amounts.

>>OnePlan, an event and venture platform, raised $3.8 million in a Series A funding round. Pembroke VCT and Eppes Creek Ventures led the round.

Music festivals and professional sports organizations have used the startup’s 3D renderings to assist their event design and production.

For more on this and on more than $770 million in event tech investments so far this year, read EventMB’s mid-year investment outlook.

>>Camplify, a recreational vehicle (RV) and campervan rental marketplace, has had an initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange.

The event gave the company, based in New South Wales, an enterprise valuation of about $30 million ($42.1 million Australian), reported SmartCompany.

>>ZeroAvia, a maker of a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for aviation, has closed a $13 million funding round.

>>At Ease, an online travel booking engine, has received a $100,000 grant to help advance the project from Austin Football Club’s Dream Starter program.

At Ease aims to help U.S. federal and military personnel and families book apartments, rental homes, condominiums, or hotel stays related to permanent changes of station, temporary duty, and leave and liberty changes. It is run by Anthony Gantt. Kxan reported on the funding.

>>Montefiore Investment, a private equity firm, has been put in charge of an approximately $210 million (€173 million) fund to help the country’s tourism and leisure businesses during the pandemic.

The Nov Tourisme – Relance Durable France. Investments so far have included travel agency group Voyageurs du Monde, tours and activities company Paris Experience Group, and mountain holiday company MMV. Story at Skift.

TreeboSeries DAccor Hotels$16,000,000
OnePlanSeries APembroke VCT, Eppes Creek Ventures$3,800,000

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, jetblue technology ventures, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: A luxury vacation rental available for booking in the Costa del Sol from OneFineStay, a brand that's part of Accor. Accor has invested in Treebo Hotels. Transparent is a startup that tracks vacation rental and other accommodation sales. Onefinestay

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