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Experts have their doubts about the development and scalability of renewable jet fuel, but many companies are trying to solve those problems.

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 startups have announced fundraises of nearly $104 million this week.

Dimensional Energy, which is developing a renewable aviation fuel made from carbon dioxide, has raised $20 million in series A funding. 

The funding round was led by Envisioning Partners, with support from United Airlines’ Sustainable Flight Fund; Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund; RockCreek Group’s Smart Aviation Futures fund; DSC Investment; Delek US; New York Ventures; Climate Tech Circle; New Climate Ventures; Elemental Excelerator; Chloe Capital; Launch New York; and others.

Dimensional Energy said its technology can turn carbon dioxide emissions into aviation fuel, diesel fuel, and a synthetic paraffin wax that can be used in many everyday products. 

The company has labs in Ithaca, New York, and a pilot plant in Arizona, as well as offices in Houston. 

United last year said it agreed to purchase at least 300 million gallons of fuel from Dimensional Energy over 20 years, part of a string of deals the airline has been making with similar startups. 

The latest funding will go toward development and scale of the product. 

That includes construction of a plant that uses technology from Svante to capture carbon from the Lafarge Richmond Cement Plant in British Columbia, Canada.

The company plans to develop other plants globally with financing from Seneca Environmental and development support from Elemental Excelerator, a nonprofit focused on scaling climate technologies. 

The company also plans to release other products, including a wax for surfboards and a vegan fat alternative for food manufacturers. 

Aether Fuels: $8.5 Million

Aether Fuels, which is developing an aviation fuel from carbon dioxide, has raised $8.5 million in pre-series A funding. The funding was in the form of convertible notes, a type of debt for early stage startups that can later be turned into equity. 

Investors for the round included JetBlue Ventures, TechEnergy Ventures, Doral Energy Tech Ventures, Foothill Ventures, and Xora Innovation.

Headquartered in Chicago and Singapore, Aether said its proprietary process makes fuel from carbon that comes from biological materials, as well as carbon that is captured from the air. The product is meant for industries like aviation and ocean shipping. 

The funding will go toward developing and scaling production technologies, expanding its pilot facility in Chicago, and hiring. 

Metafuels: $8 Million

Metafuels, which is developing a type of sustainable aviation fuel, has raised $8 million in a seed round from Energy Impact Partners and Contrarian Ventures.

Zurich-based Metafuels says its synthetic methanol product can be used in place of standard kerosine without the need to redesign aircraft or fuel infrastructure. The company believes this could be more financially feasible for airlines than adopting electric or hydrogen-powered aircraft. 

The company said its proprietary technology uses a two-step process to convert green methanol into aviation fuel. “Green” methanol is made from “green” hydrogen and sustainably-sourced carbon dioxide. “Green” hydrogen comes from splitting water molecules using electricity. The carbon comes from biomass in the short-term, with a long-term goal of pulling carbon from the air as those technologies develop. 

The funding will go toward establishing a pilot facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute, a research center in Switzerland. 

Metafuels said it believes its product will be viable as a 100% replacement for jet fuel by 2030.

“If it was decided that by 2050 all fossil fuels needed to be eliminated from jet fuel, we would say yes — that’s certainly possible,” said Leigh Hackett, chairman and chief commercial officer for Metafuels. “And it will be possible using our eSAF.”

Smartpricing: $14.2 Million

Smartpricing, a revenue management startup for hotels and rentals, has reportedly raised $14.2 million (€13 million) in a series A round. It includes €11 million in equity led by Partech and €2 million in bank credit lines. Other equity investors included Techshop’s Gianluca D’Agostino, Azimut Digitech Fund, and the founders of app developer Bending Spoons.

The Italy-based startup says its AI-powered model analyzes location and market trends to help hotels and vacation rentals set the most ideal prices. 

The startup says it has more than 3,000 hosts globally. 

The funding will go toward expanding offerings beyond revenue management. 

Intelity: $5 Million

Intelity, a hotel tech platform, has raised $5 million in growth capital from individual investors Steve Proctor and Tim Stafford.

Proctor has also been named the company’s new CEO, a role he started in October, according to his Linkedin page. 

Los Angeles-based Intelity said it offers a number of products that hotels can provide guests, including mobile check-in and check-out apps, payments capabilities, and keyless room entry. It also provides several products for back-of-house tasks.  

Proctor has previous experience at Oracle and as CEO of ecommerce company Edgenet, which he says he led out of bankruptcy before it was acquired by Syndigo for $100 million four years later. 

Stayntouch: $48 Million

Stayntouch, the property management startup owned by hotel company MCR, has raised $48 million in venture capital. 

The investment came solely from Sixth Street Growth, whose portfolio includes Airbnb, Spotify, the parking app Passport, fintech company Stripe, and others.

Stayntouch is a cloud-based property management system, the type of technology that hotels use to handle operations, such as check-in and check-out, payments, and housekeeping. 

(See Skift’s story.)

CompanyStageLeadRaise
Dimensional EnergySeries AEnvisioning Partners$20 million
Aether FuelsPre-series AUnpsecified$8.5 million
MetafuelsSeedEnergy Impact Partners and Contrarian Ventures$8 million
SmartpricingSeries APartech$14.2 million
IntelityUnpsecifiedUnpsecified$5 million
StayntouchSixth Street GrowthUnpsecified$48 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: funding, hotel tech, jetblue, microsoft, sustainable aviation fuel, united airlines, vcroundup

Photo credit: Pictured: A United Airlines plane at Newark Liberty International Airport. Chris Leipelt / Unsplash

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