Roch Ventures, a €150 million ($160.2 million) fund for travel tech startups in Europe and Israel, has made its first investment.
The Luxembourg-based fund made an investment in WeSki, a startup booking engine focused on the ski and snowboard industry. Roch Ventures is leading the round with participation from Waze founder Uri Levine, TravelPerk CEO Avi Meir, and the founders of FlixBus. The size of the investment was not disclosed.
This is the first of what will likely be another five investments from the fund this year, said Bobby Demri, managing partner of Roch Ventures. The firm plans to invest the fund into 20 companies, focusing on seed and Series A rounds. It’s focused on the European and Israeli markets, which Demri said is filling a gap for the travel tech industry there.
“In Europe, people are very afraid about travel investment. You will find some investing in travel, but you will never find a firm specializing in travel,” Demri said.”
Roch was founded last year by Demri and Ludger Kuebel-Sorger of Boston Consulting Group, along with executives from Six Senses, Ennismore Brand, and Air France.
The firm is focusing on what Demri believes is the next revolution in the travel and tourism sector.
He sees opportunities around digital nomad services, sustainability, the blending of corporate and leisure travel, and tech that could remove intermediaries like global distribution systems.
As for WeSki, he believes the opportunity lies in what he sees as a rise of niche travel services.
“I think that the travel sector is becoming a more specialized industry,” Demri said.
Tel Aviv-based WeSki partners with 60 ski resorts in seven countries in Europe. Next, it plans to enter the U.S. market, including mom-and-pop facilities that may not have had much online presence previously.
The platform allows users to book all facets of a ski trip, including flights, transportation, accommodations, ski lift passes, ski gear rental, and more, all according to budget, party size, and level of experience.
WeSki said it had a 300 percent increase in revenue between 2021 and 2022 and revenue growth of 1,000 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.