Skift Take

PteroDynamics wants to enter the commercial market with a novel vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that has folding wings.

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 travel tech startups have raised $13.3 million in venture capital this week.

>>PteroDynamics, a startup that designs and manufactures vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, has raised $7.5 million in Seed funding. It was co-led by existing investor Kairos Ventures and new investors Lavrock Ventures and CS Venture Opportunities Fund.

PteroDynamics said its aircraft, called Transwing, folds and unfolds its wings during flight to achieve different wing configurations, resulting in a smaller ground footprint and more effective performance than aircraft of a similar size and weight. This is critical for everything from drone delivery to air taxis with extensive government, defense, industrial, and commercial applications as well.

The Colorado-based company has secured contracts to provide three Transwing aircraft to the U.S. Navy, complete projects for the U.S. Air Force, and provide multiple aircraft for test and evaluation to various U.S. defense contractors.

“Our goal is clear: we want to be the established leader in VTOL aircraft for long-range and long-endurance missions in both the defense and commercial sectors. This investment will accelerate our ability to execute on that goal,” said Matthew Graczyk, CEO of PteroDynamics, in a statement. 

The capital will go toward developing larger Transwing aircraft variants, hiring, and securing more contracts. The company plans to adapt the aircraft for additional governmental purposes and for the commercial sector.

>>Apaleo, a hotel tech stack startup, has raised an extension of its Series A funding, bringing the total to $9.5 million (€9 million). The company had raised $5.3 million (€4.5 million) in Series A funding in March 2021. 

Rockaway Ventures and Serpentine Ventures led the round, with participation from returning investors Redalpine and Force Over Mass Capital and several industry angel investors.

The Germany-based startup’s platform streamlines operations for hotels and serviced apartments. The platform operates with an open application programming interface (API), meaning its products can be easily connected with other platforms. 

Clients include Numa, Mollie’s by Soho House, Mk Hotels, Zetter Hotels, Limehome, SV Group, HR Group, Vagabond Club, and Lindemann Hotels.

Apaleo said it grew annual recurring revenue by 100 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year. 

Germany as well as its continued internationalization throughout Europe

The funding will go toward further developing the product and expanding throughout Germany and Europe. 

“As a long-term investor in European online travel, we truly appreciate how well Apaleo addresses the current hospitality trends and changing demands of the modern customer. We believe Apaleo has the potential to become an important player in the global hospitality tech ecosystem,” said Andrea Lauren, general partner of Rockaway Ventures, in a statement. 

>>El Camino Travel, a group travel marketplace for women, has raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding led by Slauson & Co. with participation from Trip Ventures. 

Angel investors included Joe Zadeh, former vice president of experiences at Airbnb, and Kinjil Mathur, chief marketing officer of Squarespace.

Disclosure: Rafat Ali, founder and CEO of Skift, was also an angel investor in the pre-seed round. 

The Washington, D.C.-based startup operates curated multi-day trips in 12 countries with an average order value of $3,400. The startup also offers an annual membership for $99 for access to travel recommendations, travel guides, a travel forum, and a social network of travelers.  

“In a world full of brands in fashion, beauty, and health that cater to the needs and priorities of women – travel has yet to keep up,” said Katalina Mayorga, CEO and co-founder of El Camino, in a statement. “We are laser focused on delivering them the first high-quality and trusted experiential marketplace that always keeps them top of mind as a customer and makes it easy to book completely unique travel experiences that they would not be able to find on their own.”

El Camino said it has generated “millions in revenue” since it was founded in 2014. Revenue grew by 172 percent from 2021 to 2022, the startup said. 

The funding will go toward developing the tech platform, expanding inventory, and marketing.

CompanyStage LeadRaise
PteroDynamicsSeedKairos Ventures, Lavrock Ventures, CS Venture Opportunities Fund$7.5 million
ApaleoSeries ARockaway Ventures and Serpentine Ventures$4.7 million
El Camino TravelPre-seedSlauson & Co.$1.1 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: aircraft, aircraft manufacturers, funding, group travel, hotel tech stack, software, startups, vcroundup

Photo credit: The PteroDynamics novel aircraft (pictured) has wings that fold and unfold during flight. PteroDynamics / PteroDynamics

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