Funding to start travel this week
A start-up in London is betting that travelers will take mysterious vacations, learning their destinations at the airport. Czech travel agency raises $100 million for expansion. And other venture capital and financing news this week.
Mega Chaturvedi has been married for nine years: she’s booked their vacations, and usually her husband doesn’t even know where they’re going. Now I have turned this idea into a company.
Chaturvedi and her two partners have just raised 1.75 million pounds (US$2.1 million) in seed capital to turn the London tour operator into a bet that others are like her husband: surprise them carefully, and they’ll have a good time.
It works a bit like Netflix: Tell Journee’s algorithm what you’re looking for — a local scene, history, or food — and plan a trip that fits the client’s budget. The company selects accommodations, flights, activities, and even restaurants for four days or more. (All flights depart from London). Journee then gives a show that tells the customer where they’re going, without naming the city. Then the customer decides whether to buy it or not.
“We’ve never sent anyone to Paris,” Chaturvedi says. “We can match them on a journey that they end up loving, but they would never think of themselves.”
Most popular destination so far: Romania. She said it’s off the beaten path, it’s beautiful, and it has a lot of medieval history.
Chaturvedi and her co-founder, Ed Tribe and James Gillard, worked together at the online fashion website Depop. Depop founder Simon Beckerman and CEO Maria Raga have both invested in Journee, on a tour led by Fuel Ventures. The company opened Journeetrips.com in 2019, but the Covid pandemic has set it back, Chaturvedi says. She said more than 1,500 clients so far have taken the lead.
The customer gets a written flight package a week before departure that contains the name of the destination, but most open it at the airport, the company says. Chaturvedi said no one held back from a trip when they knew where they were going. The company has a rating of 4.9 on customer review site Trustpilot, which reports 179 reviews of the travel trip.
“At the end of the day, it works because people are having a great time,” Chaturvedi said.
In another travel tech funding this week:
- based in New York quiche It came out of stealth mode, announcing $5.5 million in funding led by Tribe Capital, Anthemis and Courtside Ventures. Other investors include NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. and actor Robin Wright. Its product is a browser extension that allows customers to split payment for travel and other purchases on different debit and credit cards. The idea is that Kechiche allows consumers to spread the debt on the cards they already own, increasing their earning of reward points. Kechiche generates revenue from fees paid by credit card companies. Loyalty innovation helped drive travel recovery from the Covid pandemic, according to Skift.
- Britain easy guide, a business-to-consumer site that sells tickets and attractions, has raised perhaps the most unusual funding round of the week: £1m from UKTV Ventures, a subsidiary of British Broadcasting Corp. Wrinkle: Invest in the form of ads. CEO Blake Anthony Reddy said in an email that the campaign begins next month and will run for a year.
- Kiwi.com, a Czech online travel agency, said it had raised 100 million euros in a deal led by an undisclosed investor. Skift covered the deal here.
- umeThe Berlin seller of ground transportation services such as bus and train tickets has raised $80 million to support its expansion, mostly in the US company Skift, explains Matt Parsons here.
- distribution, another land 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 late 2024.
Skift Cheat Sheet
start-up capital It is the money used to start a business, often led by angel investors and friends or family.
Series A Funding is usually obtained from venture capitalists. The tour aims to help the founders of the startup make sure that their product is something that customers really want to buy.
series b Funding mainly pertains to venture capital firms that help the company grow faster. These fundraising rounds can help recruit skilled workers and develop cost-effective marketing.
Series C Financing is usually related to helping a company expand, such as with acquisitions. In addition to venture capital, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms are often involved.
Series DAnd the E and beyond These fundamentally mature companies and funding round may help the company prepare for an IPO or acquisition. A variety of types of private investors may be involved.