Skift Take

This week, travel startups announced more than $15 million in seed rounds of funding. Names included Virdee, MyPlace, The Host Co., and Cruisewatch.

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 $15 million in seed rounds of funding.

>>Virdee, a hotel tech vendor, has closed a seed round of investment, bringing its total raised to date to $9 million.

Silverton Partners led the round. LiveOak Venture Partners, as well as hotel technology investors DJR Advisors also joined.

Austin-based Virdee offers contactless check-in technology as part of an all-in-one guest experience suite of tools.

Automating or replacing check-in has been promised for years. Yet a majority of stays at hotels worldwide continue today require a check-in with a front desk clerk.

A few hurdles remain. One key sticking point has been payment verification to prevent fraud. Another has been an inability to accept all forms of payment.

A third hurdle has been obstacles to integrating with the core property management systems that hotel companies use.

Attempted tech solutions have often faltered due to a lack of completeness. But Virdee said it has found workarounds to all of these problems.

In October it signed Virgin Hotels as a customer.

“We look forward to announcing several new hotel-brand partnerships in the coming months,” said Branigan Mulcahy, co-founder of Virdee.

>>MyPlace, a social network for travel homesharing, has closed a $5.8 million round of seed funding.

Freestyle led the round. Haystack, Oceans, and OnDeck also participated.

MyPlace, based in New York, is a community of more than 3,000 members, with a waitlist of 7,500 others.

About a third of stays are on the Couchsurfing-model of free hosting or home-swapping.
Paid stays generated $2.5 million in gross transactions among members in 2021, said co-founder and CEO Zach Bell.

>>The Host Co., a startup that aims to make the decor in short-term rentals easily purchasable by guests, has raised a $1.85 million seed round.

HearstLab led the round in the Oakland-based company. The Artemis Fund and Untapped Capital also participated.

“We are currently helping short-term rental hosts curate a value-add experience for their guests and make more money from every booking,” said Annie Sloan, a co-founder of the startup and a former HGTV producer.

The company’s software makes it easier for property managers to create an online shop for artwork or furnishings in a rental as well as for upsell services, such as pre-stocking a refrigerator with snacks.

“Providing another income stream to hosts is incredibly compelling especially as women constitute 56 percent of hosts and the fastest-growing host demographic is seniors,” said Diana Murakhovskaya, general partner and co-founder at The Artemis Fund.

>>Cruisewatch, a startup helping travel agents sell cruises, has closed a seed round of more than $1.10 million (€1 million) in investment.

The European Regional Development Fund, NBank Capital Beteiligungsgesellschaft, and the Hannover Beteiligungsfonds took part along with angel investors.

The Hannover-based startup said it simplifies the travel agent’s job, partly by digitizing and automating manual parts of their jobs, such as by using text and voice recognition to handle routine customer interactions.

“Our new services will revolutionize hybrid consulting by enabling us to provide intelligent, self-learning, and fully automated sales support solutions,” said Markus Stumpe, CEO and co-founder.

>>Moliving, a luxury nomadic hospitality service, has raised an undisclosed seed round of funding.

SG Blocks, a pre-fabricated or modular construction company, has led the round.

Moliving builds upscale pre-fab units for hosting travelers. The units have environmental bona fides because they use solar power, gray water recycling technology, and integrated holding tanks.

Moliving will work with partner SG Echo to build 60 units for a flagship hotel, Moliving at Hurley House, in the Hudson Valley of New York state. It expects to open five more locations in 2023 and roll out about 400 units.

CompanyStageLeadRaise
VirdeeSeedSilverton Partners$9m
MyPlaceSeedFreestyle$5.8m
The Host Co.SeedHearstLab$1.85m
CruisewatchSeedMultiple investors$1.1m
MolivingSeedSG BlocksUndisclosed

Skift Cheat Sheet

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

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