Skift Take

The taxi drivers of Welcome Pickups double as tour guides, while Cabana is offering vacation rentals in high-tech camper vans and Customcells wants to create a next-generation battery for airplanes.

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.

Five tech startups in the travel industry have raised $258.6 in venture capital this week. 

>>Welcome Pickups has secured $5.6 million (€5.3 million) from existing investors Market One Capital, Flashpoint, and Venture Friends.

Greece-based Welcome Pickups provides customized car transportation for travelers. Services include airport pickups that start with meeting the driver at the airport, as well as sightseeing tours, and a taxi service bookable online. 

The funding will go toward the goal of doubling the company’s destination network, focusing primarily on North and South America. It will also go toward improving customer service and developing new products. 

Welcome Pickups now serves 100 locations worldwide, including 33 added in 2022. The goal is to reach 400 by the end of 2024. 

More than 1 million travelers used the service in 2022, and the company saw a 50 percent increase in business during that time. Welcome Pickups said it has been profitable for the past 18 months.

>>Mews, a hotel tech platform startup, has raised $185 million in a Series C round, led by Kinnevik and the growth equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. (See Skift’s story.)

There was additional participation from Revaia, Derive Ventures, and Orbit Capital, as well as returning investors Battery Ventures, Notion Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Thayer Ventures, and henQ. Mews also expanded its existing debt facility with Columbia Lake Partners.

This latest round brings the total amount raised to date to $225 million. The funding will be used to accelerate product development, global business expansion, and mergers and acquisitions.

>>Hotel Manager, a new hotel guest management platform, has raised $1.2 million (£1 million) in seed funding led by Fuel Ventures with participation from Pitchdrive VC, CORE Angels Lisbon, Boost Fund, StartupIst Ventures, and angel investors.

The U.K.-based company, founded in 2020, said it provides a set of solutions, including chat, check-in, and commerce. Hotels can choose whichever products they need and create a platform that guests can access through an app. 

The startup plans to use the funding to grow its user base and expand globally. 

>>Cabana, a short-term rental platform that said it offers stays in high-tech campervans, has raised $3 million in a funding round led by TechNexus Venture Collaborative.

The funding will go toward expanding into new markets in the U.S. The startup this year added service in San Francisco and Austin, Texas. The other destinations is offers are Los Angeles and Seattle. 

Seattle-based Cabana also released a newly redesigned two-person campervan, built on the Mercedes Sprinter, which it said includes an indoor kitchen, a convertible bathroom area, and a simple control panel for heat and hot water. 

>>Customcells, a battery cell startup, has raised ($63.8 million) €60 million in Series A financing to focus on powering airplanes. The round was led by World Fund with participation from Abacon Capital, Vsquared Ventures, and Porsche.

Germany-based Customcells has been developing the lithium-ion battery cell product for more than ten years.

“Energy storage is the critical technology for the further expansion of renewable energy and thus for the further decarbonization of the global economy,” said Daria Saharova, co-founder of World Fund, in a statement. “Customcells has the opportunity to enable the disruption of aviation and thus rapidly decarbonize the entire industry.”

Among its goals going forward, the startup aims to secure certifications from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

CompanyStage LeadRaise
Welcome PickupsUnspecifiedUnspecified$5.6 million
MewsSeries CKinnevik and Goldman Sachs Asset Management$185 million
Hotel ManagerSeedFuel Ventures$1.2 million
CabanaUnspecifiedTechNexus Venture Collaborative$3 million
CustomcellsSeries AWorld Fund$63.8 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.


Dwell Newsletter

Get breaking news, analysis and data from the week’s most important stories about short-term rentals, vacation rentals, housing, and real estate.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: aviation, energy, funding, hotel technology, short-term rentals, startups, sustainability, taxis, vcroundup

Photo credit: Welcome Pickups offers personalized airport pickups and taxi rides. Welcome Pickups

Up Next

Loading next stories