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Smiler wants to make it easier for photographers and tourists to connect at travel destinations, while more startups are venturing into developing sustainable aviation fuel.

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.

Six travel tech startups raised $58 million over the past two weeks.

>>Smiler, a platform that connects photographers with visitors of popular tourist destinations, has raised $8.5 million. The lead investor was Octopus Ventures.

The company’s total funding is $15 million to date. 

The Amsterdam-based startup recently launched the Smiler.co website, where consumers can plan and book the photoshoots in advance. The company has a supply of 20,000 photographers and lists destinations including the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum in Rome, and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The funding will go toward expanding the startup’s presence globally, with plans to add thousands of new locations and photoshoot experiences in the next year. 

Focusing on high-traffic areas like tourist hotspots allows photographers to complete multiple shorter sessions in a smaller amount of time, giving individual consumers more affordable options while increasing revenue potential for photographers, the company said. 

“The process of starting your own photography business, self-promotion, and generating bookings traditionally requires significant effort, connections, and a bit of luck,” said Smiler CEO and co-founder Kasper Middelkoop in a statment. “Smiler simplifies this process, enabling photographers to connect directly with real consumer demand for high-quality photography using just their camera and the Smiler Photographer app.”

>>Onfly, a corporate travel and expense management software platform, has raised $16 million in series A funding. It was led by Left Lane Capital and Cloud9 Capital. 

The Brazil-based platform allows clients to book flights and hotels, reimburse expenses, and manage corporate cards all in one place. The platform includes features such as payment advances, receipt scanning, and comprehensive reports and analytics. The company offers prepaid corporate cards that clients can issue to employees.

“Our product offers full compliance and traceability of all expenses and several back-office controls. For employees, we deliver the best experience, enabling them to make reservations with a quick and streamlined booking process. For financial managers, we provide real-time visibility of all these expenses, eliminating spreadsheets, endless email exchanges, and phone calls with travel agencies,” said Marcelo Linhares, co-founder and CEO of Onfly, in a statement.

The company said it has nearly 1,000 customers of various sizes.

The funding will be used to hire in the sales, marketing, and technology departments. It will also go toward releasing new products and exploring acquisitions. 

>>OXCCU, which is developing a way to convert hydrogen and carbon dioxide into sustainable aviation fuel, has raised $22.7 million (£18 million) in a series A funding round.  

The round was led by Clean Energy Ventures with participation from Aramco Ventures, Eni Next, United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund, Braavos Capital, Kiko Ventures, University of Oxford, Trafigura, TechEnergy Ventures, and Doral Energy-Tech Ventures. 

The startup spun out of the University of Oxford in 2021. 

“At OXCCU, we’re inspired by the prospect of crossing the Atlantic using sustainable aviation fuel,” said CEO Andrew Symes in a statement. “We’ve built an extraordinary team of senior scientists, engineers, and operators, and now backed by this experienced group of investors, we are confident we can scale this technology into a cost-competitive and globally deployable solution to create a sustainable drop-in product for the global aviation market.”

>>Beyonk, a platform meant to help tours and attractions operators sell tickets, has $5.8 million in funding led by Fuel Ventures. 

The London-based startup has raised $9.7 Million to date.

The platform includes features such as a digital ticketing system, point of sale, event attendee management, and gift voucher capabilities. The startup merged with Bookinghound in 2022 to become one of the UK’s largest sellers of tickets for attractions.

The company had 400 percent growth between 2021 and 2022 and is “set to hit similar metrics this year,” according to Beyonk CEO Oscar White.

The funding will go toward expanding in the U.S., Australia, and Europe, as well as developing new tools for operators, such as one to increase customer loyalty.

>>Trip Affiliates Network, which provides a booking and distribution platform to travel companies, has raised $4.5 million in series A funding, led by individual investor Sean Chong. 

The Singapore-based platform allows hotels, travel wholesalers, operators and destination management companies manage business digitally and more complete deals with one another. 

The funding will go toward expanding the business across Asia, including greater China and Asia Pacific, hiring, marketing, and developing new features.

>>Roame, a search engine for airline loyalty programs, has raised $500,000 from the Y Combinator startup accelerator. 

The startup said its website helps customers quickly find the best flight deals on 12 airlines to maximize the value of earned loyalty points. It also shares information about which credit cards can help customers earn the most airline miles. 

>>Caphenia, which is developing synthetic gas as a component of sustainable aviation fuel, has received an undisclosed investment from Amadeus. The investment gives Amadeus a minority stake in the startup. 

CompanyStage LeadRaise
SmilerUnspecifiedOctopus Ventures$8.5 million
OnflySeries ALeft Lane Capital and Cloud9 Capital$16 million
OXCCUSeries AClean Energy Ventures$22.7 million
BeyonkUnspecifiedFuel Ventures$5.8 million
Trip Affiliates NetworkSeries ASean Chong$4.5 million
RoameUnspecifiedY Combinator$500,000

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: booking technology, corporate travel, corporate travel management, funding, fundraising, loyalty, startups, sustainable aviation fuel, tour operators, vcroundup, venture capital

Photo credit: Travelers can book a photoshoot at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona through the Smiler website. Smiler / Smiler

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