The roundup this week: Four travel tech startups based in four different continents, all focused on ground transportation.
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.
Four travel tech startups raised $121.3 million this week.
>>Via, which provides operations tech for public and private ground transportation, raised $110 million, valuing the company at $3.5 billion.
It was led by 83North, with participation from new and existing investors including Exor N.V., Pitango, Janus Henderson, CF Private Equity, Planven Entrepreneur Ventures, Riverpark Ventures, and ION Crossover Partners.
The Via software platform helps cities and transit agencies plan multi-modal transportation networks and respond to quickly changing needs, using data to optimize performance. The software can work with buses, shuttles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles.
The company said it has had a strong year as transit agencies are increasingly looking to digitize and improve efficiency. The company said its annual revenue run rate surpassed $200 million last year, more than doubling since the previous financing round in Nov. 2021.
Via plans to use the funding toward expanding its product offerings and moving into new geographies and market segments.
The Via products are used by more than 600 transit networks in more than 35 countries, the company said. Clients include the city of Jersey City, Miami-Dade County, Harvard University, New York University, European chemical company BASF, and more.
Based in New York City, Via was co-founded in 2012 by CEO Daniel Ramot.
“Via is a rare combination of a company that has a profound impact on the communities it serves while also generating attractive unit economics at scale,” said John Elkann, CEO of Exor N. V., in a statement. “Daniel and his team are building a great company, and as a major shareholder, we are committed to supporting the company in this next stage of growth.”
>>Transferz has raised $6.9 million (€6.5 million) from a group of business angel investors and family offices. One of the lead investors is Jan Kees de Jager, former minister of finance of the Netherlands.
The Amsterdam-based startup partners with ground transportation companies to streamline the booking process of private transfer services, mostly to and from airports. The startup’s tech platform integrates into the booking flow of travel brands and provides booking access for travel agents.
Transferz said the investment will allow it to expand globally, including into more ground transportation verticals, and achieve profitability in the months ahead.
The startup helps companies provide transportation to and more than 750 airports, sea ports, and train stations globally. Transferz recently added shared shuttles to its offerings, and it plans to add offerings such as public transport, parking, and potentially rental cars.
Transferz also said it has a focus on sustainability, with eco-friendly options such as electric transfers and payouts to drivers who use those options.
>>FreshBus, an electric bus startup based in Bengaluru, has raised $3.1 million (Rs 26 crore, meaning 260 million Indian rupees) from Indian online travel agency Ixigo.
Aloke Bajpai, CEO of Ixigo, made the announcement on Twitter.
FreshBus will soon launch its service with 24 buses, he said, with a plan to scale to more than 1,000 in India in the next two to three years. The buses come with software for routing, pricing, and customer experience management.
“The fossil-fuel based intercity bus experience in India is broken for many reasons — noisy and dirty buses, lack of punctuality, unscheduled stops, unprofessional staff/drivers, poor cleanliness, inconvenient boarding points, and poor unit economics among others,” Bajpai stated in the post.
“The vision behind FreshBus is to build a pan-India network of EV-based buses that will offer a safe, reliable, affordable, comfortable and environment-friendly intercity travel. With improving road connectivity, why should traveling on buses feel any different from flight?”
One FreshBus will save nearly 24,000 gallons (more than 90,000 liters) of diesel fuel each year, he said.
>>BuuPass has raised $1.3 million in pre-seed funding for software meant to help bus operators digitize operations, inventory, and ticket sales.
Investors include Five35 Ventures, Founders Factory Africa, Changecom Capital, Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Program, Maxime Bayen, and Nairobi Business Angel Network.
In addition to the software for operators, BuuPass offers a consumer marketplace, where travelers can search for, compare, and book tickets.
The Kenya-based startup plans to expand in East Africa, with a focus on Kenya and Uganda, with goals to provide infrastructure for long distance transportation.
The company said it has reached a compound annual growth rate of 73 percent over five years.
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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Photo credit: This electric minibus (pictured) is operated by Thai Smile Bus Co. Wikimedia Commons