Skift Take

This week, travel startups announced more than $200 million in funding, including GuruHotel, a startup that helps smaller hotels accept direct bookings and market their properties.

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 [email protected] if you have funding news.

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

>>AvantStay, which helps manage vacation rentals and streamline group travel, raised $160 million in fresh funding. Tarsadia Investments and 3L Capital co-led the Series B round. See Skift’s report.

>>Mews, a maker of property management software for hotels, has raised an undisclosed amount of investment from Salesforce Ventures, the venture arm of the enterprise tech giant. Read Skift’s story: “Salesforce-Backed Mews Shifts Hotel Tech Focus From Room to Guest.”

>>GuruHotel, a travel startup based in Mexico, raised $2.1 million in a seed round. Anthemis Group, Magic Fund, 500 Startups, Shruti Challa, and others participated.

GuruHotel offers a direct-to-consumer white-labeled service for hotels, somewhat like the next-generation version of Buuteeq, a builder of optimized e-commerce sites for hotels that Booking Holdings bought in 2014.

GuruHotel, launched in July 2019, claims it can use modern methods to help a hotel self-onboard and launch their official hotel websites and begin selling their rooms directly within an hour. In an innovation, it has a different process for guiding consumers along the path to purchase than the generic “booking engine” that’s widespread today.

Interestingly, it isn’t a software-as-a-service company charging a monthly fee or set-up fees (as are common practices by most other vendors). Instead, it charges hotels a 5 percent commission on bookings.

The startup is a graduate of the famed Y Combinator startup accelerator. It has 38 employees and has 160 hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean as customers. It generated $3 million in revenue this year.

GuruHotel recently signed an agreement with SiteMinder, the biggest channel manager, which will connect GuruHotel’s services to more than 400 property manager systems worldwide and increase the company’s potential audience.

>>ConnexPay, which offers a fully integrated merchant processing and virtual card issuing solution, has raised a $20 million investment led by the card-issuing service Marqeta. The payment distribution platform digitizes the flow of funds for the travel industry. More details, here.

CompanyStageLeadRaise
AvantStaySeries BTarsadia Investments, 3L Capital$160,000,000
GuruHotelSeedAnthemis Group$2,100,000
ConnexPaySeries BMarqeta$20,000,000

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, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: Casa Astral Luxury Hotel on Holbox Island in Mexico is a customer of the Mexico-based travel startup GuruHotel. Source: GuruHotel.

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