Skift Take

There weren't big numbers this week, but there were investments from some big-name venture capital firms: F-Prime Capital, JetBlue Ventures, Thayer Ventures, and Plug and Play.

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.

Three startups working in travel tech announced nearly $17 million in funding this week.

>>Deal Engine raised a $5.3 million seed round, led by F-Prime Capital with participation from Thayer Ventures, PAR Capital, Plug and Play, Sandor Palfy, and Gilad Bernstein. 

The Deal Engine software platform automates airline ticket refunds and changes on behalf of airlines, online travel agencies, and other clients. 

Airlines spend 2–5 percent of annual revenue on call centers dedicated post-booking activities because much of it is done manually, the company said. Deal Engine is meant to save some of that money by preventing consumers from making a phone call. 

“The user interface empowers our clients’ customer service to process 100 times more in one-tenth of the time,” said Alex Jara, CEO of Miami-based Deal Engine. 

In total, he said there are about 100,000 employees who work full-time to change airline tickets. 

“Our solution creates the space for those people to be doing other things,” Jara said. 

Deal Engine said it has more than 90 clients from 25 countries, including two of the world’s top 10 online travel agencies and a major Latam Airlines.

The startup has a couple of other airline clients in the pipeline, he said. 

The funding will go toward growing the engineering, product, and sales teams as the company expands beyond the Americas into Europe and the Middle East.

>>UrbanFox raised a $3.6 million (€3.5 million) seed round, co-led by MiddleGame Ventures and JetBlue Ventures, with participation from Furthr VC, IAG Capital Partners, Forward VC, WxNW, Twilightford, and a number of angel investors. 

The Dublin-based tech startup has made a software platform that uses artificial intelligence to reduce a growing type of online fraud, which involves using compromised financial information to create multiple synthetic identities to purchase goods or digital assets. 

In the travel industry, fraudsters often obtain credit or banking card information by getting online access to frequent flier accounts. Alternatively, they try to empty the loyalty accounts by redeeming the miles for rewards in online stores.

The software platform uses artificial intelligence to track and prevent that fraudster behavior. It can be applied in e-commerce, digital purchases and payment processing. 

UrbanFox said it recently signed a deal with a major airline. 

The company plans to use the capital to grow its team and reach more customers in the aviation and retail sectors. JetBlue Ventures says it invests in early-stage startups that are working to improve the travel and hospitality industry. 

“Current fraud detection solutions are no longer up to the task. UrbanFox is built to more accurately identify the most sophisticated type of fraud attacks and stop fraudsters before they ever get close to using a compromised credit card,” said Daniel Loftus, founder and CEO of UrbanFox, in a statement. 

>>Silkhaus, a Dubai-based startup that digitizes short-term rentals, raised $7.7 million in seed funding. (See Skift’s story.) 

Investors joining this round included Dubai-based Nuwa Capital, London-based Nordstar Partners, Berlin’s Global Founders Capital, Singapore-based Yuj Ventures, India’s Whiteboard Capital, and VentureSouq from Dubai.

CompanyStage LeadRaise
Deal EngineSeedF-Prime Capital$5.3 million
UrbanFoxSeedMiddleGame Ventures and JetBlue Ventures$3.6 million
SilkhausSeedUnspecified$7.7 million

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, jetblue ventures, startups, travel technology, vcroundup, venture capital

Photo credit: Latam Airlines is a client of tech startup Deal Engine. Adam Moreira / Wikimedia Commons

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