Kimkim, Travello, and Travelstop together announced more than $8.5 million in funding this week. The leisure travel agency, the social travel model, and the business travel booking tool, respectively, are each seeing new twists.
>>Kimkim raised a total of $3.7 million in a series of seed investments.
The Palo Alto-based company had disclosed a $1 million seed investment in 2016. The other $2.7 million has been raised since then, with the biggest piece — $2 million — coming from Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Launched in December 2015 as HiveTravel, the service quizzes a consumer on what kind of trip they may like, introduces the user to a local travel advisor to finalize the details, and then facilitates the transaction.
CEO and co-founder Joost Schreve has past experience in the industry. He previously founded and sold EveryTrail, a location-aware tech company, to TripAdvisor in 2011 and eventually rose to become vice president of mobile product at the online travel company.
Several companies have attempted to mix human agents with online booking and have struggled to gain traction. Mobile booking through travel agents never broke through for well-funded and staffed Lola, which is moving to a corporate travel service. Flightfox, another effort at matching travelers with human “travel hackers”, also ended in a pivot to corporate travel.
Leisure-focused Kimkim has nine employees. “Our gross booking volume passed $1 million per month recently, growing nicely at a pace of about 2.5 times, year-over-year,” Schreve said.
>>Travello, an Australia-based social travel app, raised $3.6 million ($5 million Australian) in funding from a consortium of investors.
CEO and co-founder Ryan Hanly said the company has 350,000 travelers using it to share tips and browse more than 50,000 bookable in-destination activities.
Launched in January 2015, Travello debuted in the wake of a decade of many companies attempting to build a “Facebook for travel.”
The only one of these that gained significant traction was Gogobot, which had raised $39 million in funding and last year was acquired by Ctrip.com and its sister price-comparison brand Skyscanner.
Another company, Where Are You Now (WAYN) was acquired for $1.2 million by Lastminute Group in 2016, despite having raised $11 million from investors.
Another, Triposo, was acquired last year by Musement for an undisclosed sum.
Hanly said this time is different for social travel. The short answer is timing. “Travello probably would have met a similar fate to WAYN if it was developed even five years ago,” Hanly said. “The timing just wasn’t there, but the concept was sound.”
He added that mobile-only Travello can take advantage of some changed factors, such as the rise of last-minute bookable destination activities and the rising behavior of social sharing via apps like Instagram.
Travello is neither a marketplace nor a travel planning tool, which often struggle because of their infrequent use case. Travello has focused on community development instead. “That’s a distinct point of difference to the Klooks and even TripAdvisor — which has lost its community feel.”
Commissions from recommending tours and activities, which are mostly booked in-destination, will be the company’s eventual revenue focus, Hanly said. Travello also hopes to make money by helping companies in-destination enjoy visibility with qualified customers.
This is Travello’s second round of funding, having closed a $900,000 ($1.26 million Australian) angel round. The company faces competition from players such as Trekteller, which claims to have close to 50,000 active users.
>>Travelstop, a Singapore-based business travel startup, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding.
SeedPlus, a Singapore-based firm connected with Jungle Ventures, and an undisclosed travel-focused venture capital firm based in the U.S., led the equity round.
The travel ecosystem is disjointed, with various inventory suppliers and agencies trying to sync with hundreds of different systems, assimilate the information, and provide the best possible experience for the end-user in an Asian context of different languages and currencies.
As of today, Travelstop — which has a dozen workers and is hiring for more — is building its product for small- and medium-sized Asian corporates with a focus on Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
CEO and co-founder Prashant Kirtane previously co-founded Travelmob, a vacation rental search site that was acquired by HomeAway/Expedia a few years ago. Kirtane co-founded Travelstop in November 2017 with two other entrepreneurs who also had worked at TravelMob.