Buying up smaller agencies has now become the tried-and-tested method of expansion for Navan, the corporate travel agency formerly known as TripActions. But this approach is highly relevant in India, with its mostly offline corporate travel booking practices.
Corporate travel and expense management company Navan has bought India’s corporate travel startup Tripeur.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition will help Navan, which recently rebranded from TripActions, gain a foothold in the fast developing country. It already has a presence in Delhi, following its acquisition of Reed & Mackay, but now adds Bengaluru.
Some 77 percent of Indian businesses expect to increase their travel budget in 2023 compared to 2022, according to a new American Express survey. In the post-pandemic period, 43 percent of financial decision makers surveyed also said that the use of better software to manage expenses and travel would be a key innovation.
All of 50 Tripeur’s employees will transition over.
Navan estimates the travel market in India is worth $35 billion, but it remains a fragmented industry. Most companies use offline processes to book travel, so Navan spots an opportunity.
“Tripeur has spearheaded the transformation of the Indian travel market from offline to online, so this acquisition enables Navan to immediately solve for local obstacles — such as direct connections to local low-cost carriers and automated GST (Goods and Services Tax) reconciliation of employee expenses — which the Navan team will be able to ingest and scale in order to serve our growing list of enterprise customers,” said Navan CEO Ariel Cohen, in a note on the company blog, more details in the post from him,
However, other local agencies continue to expand. Corporate travel agency Yatra is preparing to go public in the country. A listing in India, where the market is now more receptive to e-commerce platforms, is still on the agenda for online travel agency MakeMyTrip, which is listed on Nasdaq in New York.
In August last year, business travel and expense platform Itilite raised $29 million.
In October 2021, Tripeur said it planned to raise between $3 and $5 million to spend on “new innovations and also fund its expansion that includes entering markets beyond India.”
“We have raised $2 million so far, and are currently operationally profitable. We believe we are the frontrunners of corporate travel automation and we wanted venture funding to help us scale for quick market capture. We saw a 7X growth in about 15 months,” said Thiagarajan Rajagopalan, co-founder at Tripeur, at the time.
In 2019 Tripeur raised $1 million in funding.
Navan’s latest acquisition follows its entry into Spain at the end of last year, when it bought Atlanta Events & Corporate Travel Consultants. At the time it was Navan’s fourth acquisition in 18 months.
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Photo credit: Some 77 percent of Indian businesses expect to increase their travel budget in 2023 compared to 2022, according to a new American Express survey. Arihant Daga / Unsplash