Skift Take

The startup Dharma has a fresh concept for you: "travel brand as a service." It's a white-label tour operator that runs on software automation and focuses on niche customer segments.

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 $40 million in funding.

>>Wanderlust Group, a technology provider in the marine and outdoor travel industries, has closed a $30 million Series C funding round.

Thursday Ventures led the round.

The Wanderlust Group is the parent brand to Dockwa, and the forthcoming Campouts – marketplaces to match consumers with outdoor activities. For example, boat owners have booked 5 million stays at marinas through the transaction platform Dockwa.

>>Dharma, a business-to-business travel management service based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has closed a $3.5 million investment round.

Pernod Ricard’s Convivialite Ventures and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Hub 71 participated in the round. So did L& Ventures (the corporate venture firm of Loop Agentur, the global marketing agency for Puma, Red Bull, and Porsche), Beirut’s BY Venture Partners, and Shorooq (Abu Dhabi’s leading venture capital firm).

Dharma “builds travel brands for the passion economy.” It uses software to help operate the back-end processes of operating tours, and it offers this technology to brands that have audiences with niche interests to help them monetize those audiences with custom, relevant tours.

For example. Dharma powers behind the scenes new tour operator Looking FC, which offers four-day trips touring iconic venues for fans of football, or soccer, worldwide. The trips have been crafted by Eric Cantona, the former captain of Manchester United.

Other Dharma clients include travel publication Culture Trip, wine and spirits maker Pernod Ricard, and fitness brand Equinox.

“We are so excited about the future of travel, with 2022’s booked gross merchandise value already 30 times that of 2019, and six times that of 2021,” said co-founder Nisma Benani.

>>Tabas, a startup in Brazil that rents out on an extended stay model for business travelers furnished apartments, has received $6.6 million in equity from Blueground. It also took on $7.3 million in debt financing.

The Wanderlust GroupSeries CThursday Ventures$30m
DharmaPre-Series APernod Ricard and Mubadala$3.5m
TabasSeries ABlueground$6.6m

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: Looking FC tour by Eric Cantona, the former captain of Manchester United, launched a travel brand for football, or soccer, fans in partnership with the startup Dharma.  Eric Cantona is on the right. Courtesy of Looking FC.

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