A London startup is banking on travelers taking mysterious vacations and finding out their destinations at the airport. A Czech travel agency raises $100 million for expansion. And other venture capital and financing news this week.
Megha Chaturvedi has been married for nine years: she booked her holidays and her husband usually didn’t even know where to go. Now she has turned this idea into a company.
Chaturvedi and two partners have just raised £1.75million ($2.1million) of seed capital to make London tour operator Journee a bet that other people are like her husband: thoughtfully surprise them and they will become one have a good time
It works a bit like Netflix: Tell Journee’s algorithm what you’re looking for — scenery, history, or local food — and it plans a trip that fits the client’s budget. The company selects accommodation, flights, activities and even restaurants for four days or more. (All trips depart from London). Then Journee makes a suggestion and tells the customer where they are 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 assign them a journey that they would end up loving but would never think of themselves.”
The most frequent destination so far: Romania. It’s off the beaten track, pretty, and has a lot of medieval history, she said.
Chaturvedi and her co-founders Ed Tribe and James Gillard collaborated on online fashion site Depop. Depop founder Simon Beckerman and CEO Maria Raga both invested in Journee in a round led by Fuel Ventures. The company launched Journeetrips.com in 2019, but the Covid pandemic has set it back, says Chaturvedi. More than 1,500 customers have taken the plunge so far, she said.
The customer gets a written trip pack that includes the name of the destination a week before departure, but most open it at the airport, the company says. No one resigns from a trip once they learn where they are going, Chaturvedi said. The company has a rating of 4.9 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 buffs this week:
- Based in New York Kashian came out of stealth mode and announced $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. Its product is a browser extension that allows customers to split payment for travel and other purchases between different debit and credit cards. The idea is that Kasheesh will allow consumers to spread debt across cards they already own and maximize reward points accrual. Kasheesh generates revenue from fees paid by credit card companies. Loyalty innovations have helped fuel travel’s recovery from the Covid pandemic, according to Skift.
- Great Britain easyGuide, a business-to-consumer website that sells sightseeing tickets, has raised perhaps the week’s most unusual funding round: £1million from UKTV Ventures, a subsidiary of British Broadcasting Corp. The catch: the investment comes in the form of advertising. The campaign begins next month and will run for a year, CEO Blake Anthony Reddy said in an email.
- Kiwi.com, a Czech online travel agency, said it had raised 100 million euros in a deal managed by an unnamed investor. Skift covered the deal here.
- Omioa Berlin-based provider of ground transportation services like bus and train tickets, raised $80 million to support its expansion, primarily in the US, Skift’s Matt Parsons explains here.
- distribution, another ground transportation platform, raised €30 million in a round led by Lightrock. Also based in Berlin, the company has focused on Latin America and says it will serve 100 million people annually by the end of 2024.
Skift cheat sheet
seed capital is money used to start a business, often run by angel investors and friends or family members.
Series A Funding is usually provided by venture capitalists. The round aims to help the founders of a startup ensure that their product is something that customers really want to buy.
Series B Funding is all about venture capital firms helping a business grow faster. These fundraising rounds can help recruit skilled labor and develop low-cost marketing.
Series C Funding is usually 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 companies and the round of financing can help a company prepare for the IPO or acquisition. A variety of types of individual investors could participate.