Travel Startup Financing This Week

Travel Startup Financing This Week

quick take

A London startup is betting that travelers will take mystery vacations, learning their destinations at the airport. A Czech travel agency raises $100 million for expansion. And other venture capital and financing news this week.

Tim Mullaney

Megha Chaturvedi has been married for nine years: she booked her vacation and usually her husband didn’t even know where they were going. She has now turned that idea into a company.

Chaturvedi and two partners have just raised £1.75m (US$2.1m) of seed money to turn London tour operator Journee into a bet that other people are like your husband – surprise them nicely and tell them they will have a good time

It works a bit like Netflix: tell the Journee algorithm what you’re looking for—scenery, history, or local food—and it plans a trip that fits the customer’s budget. The company collects lodging, flights, activities, even restaurants for four days or more. (All trips depart from London). Journee then makes a proposal by telling the client where he is going, without naming the city. The customer then decides whether to buy it or not.

“We have never sent anyone to Paris,” says Chaturvedi. “We can relate them to a trip that they end up loving, but they would never think about themselves.”

The most common destination so far: Romania. It’s off the beaten path, it’s beautiful and it has a lot of medieval history, he said.

Chaturvedi and his co-founders, Ed Tribe and James Gillard, worked together on the online fashion site Depop. Depop founder Simon Beckerman and CEO Maria Raga invested in Journee, in a round led by Fuel Ventures. The company opened Journeetrips.com in 2019, but the covid pandemic delayed them, says Chaturvedi. More than 1,500 clients so far have taken the plunge, she said.

The client receives a written travel package a week before departure that contains the name of the destination, but most open it at the airport, the company says. No one has ever backed down from a journey when they know where they are going, Chaturvedi said. The company has a 4.9 rating on consumer review site Trustpilot, which reports 179 Journee reviews.

“At the end of the day, it works because people are having a great time,” Chaturvedi said.

In other travel tech backgrounds this week:

  • Based in New York kasheesh it came out of stealth mode, announcing $5.5 million in funding led by Tribe Capital, Anthemis, and Courtside Ventures. Other investors included NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and actor Robin Wright. Their product is a browser extension that allows customers to split payment for travel and other purchases across different debit and credit cards. The idea is for Kasheesh to allow consumers to spread debt across the cards they already have and maximize their earning of rewards points. Kasheesh generates revenue from fees paid by credit card companies. Loyalty innovation has helped drive travel’s recovery from the Covid pandemic, according to Skift.
  • Britain easyguide, a business-to-consumer site that sells tickets to tourist attractions, raised perhaps the week’s most unusual funding round: £1m from UKTV Ventures, an affiliate of British Broadcasting Corp. The problem: The investment is in the form of advertising . The campaign starts next month and runs for a year, CEO Blake Anthony Reddy said in an email.
  • kiwi.com, a Czech online travel agency, said it raised 100 million euros in a deal led by an undisclosed investor. Skift covered the deal here.
  • omioa Berlin-based seller of ground transportation services such as bus and train tickets, raised $80 million to support its expansion, mostly in the US. Skift’s Matt Parsons explains here.
  • Distribution, another ground transportation platform, raised €30 million in a round led by Lightrock. The company, also based in Berlin, has focused on Latin America and says it will serve 100 million people a year by the end of 2024.

Skift Cheat Sheet

Seed capital it is money used to start a business, often run by angel investors and friends or family.

A series financing usually comes from venture capitalists. The round aims to help startup founders make sure their product is something customers actually want to buy.

B-series Financing is mostly about venture capital firms that help a company grow faster. These fundraising rounds can help recruit skilled workers and develop profitable marketing.

C-series Financing typically involves helping a business expand, for example through acquisitions. In addition to venture capitalists, hedge funds, investment banks and private equity firms are often involved.

D-series, And, and beyond These mainly mature businesses and the financing round can help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. A variety of types of private investors could participate.

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