Skift Take

AI trip planners, alternative jet fuel, the metaverse, next-generation chargers for airline passengers: There is a big variety of travel tech startups raising money lately.

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.

10 travel tech startups announced over $78 million in funding over the past two weeks. 

>>Mindtrip, a startup developing a trip planning and booking app powered by generative AI, has raised $7 million in seed funding led by Costanoa Ventures.

The San Francisco-based startup said it would release a public beta version of its product, which will be developed with an AI assistant as the foundation, before the end of the year.

The company said that the Mindtrip platform will allow users to plan and book destinations, flights, hotels, restaurants, and tours in one place, starting by inputting simple questions. It will also allow users to create and manage an entire itinerary. 

“Watching the evolution of who is traveling and how they plan … we saw an opportunity to create one place where people could combine the ability to discover, plan and book,” said Andy Moss, co-founder and CEO of Mindtrip, in a statement. “Where ChatGPT stops at text suggestions, Mindtrip incorporates photos, maps, pricing and availability data that lets someone actually plan and book their complete travel itinerary leveraging generative AI.”  

The startup was founded in 2023 by 12 people, including Moss and Trey Matteson, who co-founded vehicle ecommerce platform Roadster and sold it to CDK Global for $360 million in 2021. The founding team also includes Garrick Toubassi, who previously led the Gmail engineering team at Google.

>>Lydian, a producer of sustainable jet fuel made from carbon dioxide, has raised $12 million in seed funding. It was co-led by Congruent Ventures and Galvanize Climate Solutions, with support from Grok Ventures, Voyager Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Overture VC, and Overlap Holdings.

Lydian also raised $3 million in June 2022 from Congruent, USV, Voyager, and Global Founders Capital. 

The Massachusetts-based startup said its proprietary technology produces low-cost fuels made from carbon dioxide and renewable electricity.

The funds will go toward building a pilot plant in 2024, which the startup said will be capable of producing more than 5,000 gallons of fuel per year. Lydian is already producing small quantities of the fuel in its lab.

Lydian also aims to produce versions of other industrial chemicals using carbon. 

“We believe fuels produced with our technology will consume less energy per gallon than any other e-fuel,” said Joe Rodden, Lydian’s CEO, in a statement.

“Lydian is the best-positioned technology we have come across in this space,” said Joshua Posamentier, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures. 

>>Allseated, an event planning tech platform, has raised $20 million funding, led by Level Structured Capital with support from Magma Ventures, Vestech Partners, NYFF, and WGG.

The San Francisco-based platform includes virtual replicas of event spaces that planners can use to tour and plan events remotely. The platform includes other event planning capabilities, as well, including guest list and seating chart management.

Allseated also plans to spin out a metaverse division, meant to provide virtual events in corporate environments.

>>Point.Me, a search engine for booking flights with loyalty points, has raised $10 million in series A funding. 

It was led by Thayer Ventures, with support from PAR Capital Ventures, RiverPark Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, MoreThanCapital, and Gaingels, as well as David Baggett and Carl de Marcken co-founders of the platform now known as Google Flights.

(See Skift’s story.)

>>Travelshift, an online travel agency based in Iceland, has raised $10 million from existing shareholders including GE Investment Management. 

Travelshift owns three travel planning and booking websites: Guide to Europe, Guide to Iceland, and Guide to the Philippines.

The company said its most recent platform, Guide to Europe, allows travelers to book and manage all parts of a trip through one app. It also includes thousands of itineraries and European vacation packages. 

>>Kiki (formerly EasyRent), an invite-only platform for subletting apartments in New York City, has raised $6 million in seed funding. 

It was led with $4.5 million from Blackbird Ventures, with support from former Airbnb exec Harry Uffindell, Facebook Marketplace founder Bowen Pan, former Bumble exec Michelle Battersby, and former Canva exec and Phase One Ventures founder Mahesh Muralidhar, as well as former Uber execs Tyler Trerotola and Jaikumar Ganesh.

The startup plans to launch in New York City in October, meant for sublets with a minimum of one to three months. 

Kiki was originally focused on Sydney, Australia, according to a blog post on Blackbird’s website. 

“Despite being profitable, the team decided to shut down operations in Sydney to focus on launching in New York City with the belief that the global winner in this category is ultimately defined by who wins the major cities in the U.S.,” the post stated.

>>Branchspace, an airline retailing platform, has raised $6.2 million (£5 million) in growth equity from Gresham House Ventures.

The London-based company said its platform allows airline clients to create and manage ecommerce packages that include personalized shopping of products beyond just plane tickets. Customers include Aegean, Air Malta, British Airways, Lufthansa Group, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines.

The investment will go toward strengthening software products for better traveler experiences with website and mobile app navigation, booking, ancillary offerings, check-in, self-service, and payments. 

>>Modern Adventure, a tour operator for group travel, has raised $4.8 million in series A funding from Seal Rock Partners, Natty Zola of Matchstick Ventures, and Nate Abbott of Mischief Ventures.

The Oregon-based company hosts small-group tours that include partnerships with artists and designers, chefs, winemakers, and more. Users can book and pay for tours on the startup’s website. 

The funding will go toward adding more private group retreats worldwide, hiring, and expanding business.

>>WeSky, which has developed a lightweight device charger for airline passengers, has raised $1.2 million (1.1 million)

Lithuania-based WeSky said its product can be installed in each seat of an aircraft and allows quick charging of personal electronic devices through USB-A and USB-C ports.

The investment comes from Coinvest Capital, Baltic Sandbox Ventures, Notarc Management Group, and angel investors. 

The funding will go toward testing in the first quarter of 2024 and expanding international sales. 

>>Mappls Kogo, a travel app powered by generative AI, has raised $1.1 million (90 million Indian rupees) from MapMyIndia.

The startup also raised $1.2 million (100 million Indian Rupees) earlier this year from MapMyIndia.

The India-based startup said its app can produce bookable itineraries that include flights, hotels, and experiences.

MindtripSeedCostanoa Ventures$7 million
LydianSeedCongruent Ventures and Galvanize Climate Solutions$12 million
AllseatedUnspecifiedLevel Structured Capital$20 million
Point.MeSeries AThayer Ventures$10 million
TravelshiftUnspecifiedUnspecified$10 million
KikiSeedBlackbird Ventures$6 million
BranchspaceUnspecifiedGresham House Ventures$6.2 million
Modern AdventureSeries AUnspecified$4.8 million
WeSkyUnspecifiedUnspecified$1.2 million
Mappls KogoUnspecifiedMapMyIndia$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 interiors, airline retail, app, artificial intelligence, credit cards, event planners, funding, generative ai, group travel, india, loyalty, mapping, meeting planning, new york city, online travel, online travel agencies, retail, rewards, short-term rentals, sustainable aviation fuel, thayer ventures, tour guides, tour operator, travel guides, vcroundup

Photo credit: Two AI trip planning apps raised money this week. Skitterians / Pixabay

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