Travel seed funding this week

This week, travel startups announced more than $690 million in debt and equity investments.

>>BeforeStaya short-term rental property operator and distributor, closed a $500 million non-equity financing round to create a company that will hold its real estate assets.

Saluda Grade, a real estate advisory and asset management firm, has backed this short-term rental fund, which will buy half a billion dollars worth of residential properties. Saluda Grande will own the homes and AvantStay will be the property manager. See Skift coverage.

>>To evolvea vacation rental hotel company, announced a $100 million capital increase.

Durable Capital Partners led the round.

Denver-based Evolve manages more than 19,000 vacation rentals and has raised $235 million.

Evolve sees property manager Vacasa, which went public in December, as having a different business model, which leads to attracting different types of customers.

Unlike Vacasa, Evolve offers an a la carte model. Its basic plan charges a 10% commission and does not include housekeeping or maintenance, but does include all aspects of generating rental income as an on-ramp to marketing a property on major channels like Airbnb, Booking.com and Vrbo. Services include taking professional photos, building a listing, offering pricing advice and managing customer interactions.

Evolve chooses this middle way of an a la carte approach to allow owners the option of sticking with their own preferred local providers for housekeeping and maintenance if they choose.

Evolve’s growth has come from a mix of online marketing and word of mouth referrals. It increased its staff by 68% to nearly 800 workers last year. The brand said it has served more than 7 million customers since its inception in 2011.

>>Plum Guidean elite vacation rental property manager, closed a $31m (£23m) Series B funding round.

Beringea led the heat. Existing investors Talis Capital, Hearst Ventures and Latitude (LocalGlobe) also participated. The round also includes a $3.5 million crowdfunding backed by hosts, guests and fans. The investment follows a $9 million cash injection led by Beringea last year.

Here is the pitch from founder and CEO Doron Meyassed’s London-based company:

Plum Guide, founded in 2016, identifies the best homes in a market by analyzing thousands of customer reviews and reviewing properties against criteria set by expert reviewers. It selects only the top 3% of properties in any destination to ensure quality control of its experiences for an affluent customer profile.

“As consumers begin to catch up, there will be strong demand for exceptional and reliable travel experiences,” said Karen McCormick, chief investment officer at Beringea.

>>Salvationa travel live-streaming platform, closed a $20 million Series A funding round.

Northzone led the heat. Lightspeed Venture Partners, Point 9 Capital, TQ Ventures, Ascension, the Fund and numerous angel investors participated.

Forbes called the company “Twitch for travel.” The service allows you to tip guides who offer you virtual tours in more than 90 countries. Customers booked 2 million live tours through the service, the company said.

“Their interactive, guided streams are the Twitch equivalent of the hugely popular travel show and documentary genre, creating a new category of immersive journeys around the world from home,” said Michiel Kotting, Northzone partner and member of the board of directors.

“John, Liam and their team have provided creators around the world with a powerful means of self-expression and monetization while providing audiences with hours of transformative entertainment,” Kotting said.

>>UFO Drivean electric vehicle rental service, raised $19 million in Series A funding.

Hertz Corp. and one of its main owners, Certares, co-led the round. See Skift coverage.

>>Roomdexwhich sells hotel software to help simplify the upgrade process for guests through automation, received a $10 million strategic investment.

Webjet, a Melbourne, Australia-based travel company with a flagship bedbank business, was the investor.

Roomdex has a client list of over 90 hotels which together have approximately 8,500 rooms.

The company’s upsell software promises to automate and monetize the room upgrade process. It uses hotel booking, customer data and its proprietary personality and price algorithms to deliver personalized digital offers, the company said.

The company was founded in 2020 by industry veterans Jos Schaap, Pierre Boettner and Denis Bajet.

>>lavendera UK property technology company that allows owners and managers of residential properties to flexibly rent units for short, long or long term stays, closed a $7.25 million funding round.

Finch Capital led the round. Starwood Capital and Concrete VC also participated.

The software helps decide how to divide the mix of units into short-term rentals, serviced apartments, multi-family rentals or student accommodation based on changing demand and supply. Clients include Greystar, Blackstone and JLL.

>>GoZayaanan online travel agency based in Bangladesh, has acquired Pakistan’s adventure tourism booking service FindMyAdventure via a $3.5 million investment, according to Bloomberg News.

>>Note: Earlier this week, Skift reported that Secret getaways, which offers holiday packages to people who sign up for free memberships, raised approximately $74m (£55m) in funding from all of its existing shareholders in May 2020, according to new financial documents. See Skift’s story.

Company Stage lead raise
BeforeStay Debt Saluda quality $500 million
To evolve E-Series Sustainable capital partners $100 million
Plum Guide B-series Beringee $31 million
Salvation A-Series North area $20 million
UFO Drive A-Series Certares and Hertz $19 million
Roomdex Strategic Webjet $10 million
lavender A-Series Capital of finches $7.25 million
FindMyAdventure Acquisition GoZayaan $3.5 million

Skift Cheat Sheet

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

A-Series funding usually comes from venture capitalists. The cycle aims to help startup founders ensure that their product is something customers actually want to buy.

B-series funding is mostly for venture capitalists that help a business grow faster. These fundraisers can help recruit skilled workers and develop profitable marketing.

C-Series financing generally consists of helping a company to grow, for example through acquisitions. In addition to VCs, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms often participate.

D-Series, And, beyond These mostly mature companies and the funding cycle can help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. Various types of private investors could participate.

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