Vietnamese “Airbnb for tour guides” Triip.me on Thursday announced that it had closed a fundraising of $500,000 led by Asian venture capital firm Gobi Partners, aiming to expand the team, attract users and explore new markets.
The seed investment also marks the VC firm’s first deal in Vietnam. Gobi Partners believes Triip is the strongest player in this category in the local market.
In July last year, Ha Lam, CEO of the startup, told the Wall Street Journal that the company was valued at $1 million and that she hoped to raise another $500,000 which would help boost the valuation to $2.5 million.
“Unlike traditional tour packages, which generally take a one-size-fits-all approach, Triip’s tours are personally curated by local experts across a wide range of interests to offer unique travel and cultural experiences,” Gobi Partners said in Thursday release.
Vietnam is still an emerging tourist market, having brought in 7.9 million inbound tourists last year. “Triip has brought the crowdsourcing model to travel, allowing tourists to enjoy new and authentic experiences that were otherwise inaccessible in the past,” added Thomas G. Tsao, the fund’s managing partner. “By bringing together local travel enthusiasts with adventurers from around the world, we believe that Triip is bound for great things ahead.”
Founded in 2013, the Ho Chi Minh City-based crowdsourced travel platform enables local individuals to become “Triip Creators”, who will design their own customised tour packages, offering independent travelers local cultural experiences with real people. The website allows tourists to find the local experiences posted by independent tour guides then book a trip.
“By doing so, Triip allows travelers to visit places off the beaten path, while becoming friends with local residents; give exposure to hidden treasures and create economic activity; and help preserve local cultures and environments through a more sustainable approach to tourism,” the VC firm added.
Like other on-demand service startups, the Vietnamese company also enables a two-way rating system to weed out bad guides and travelers. The payment is delivered upon completion of the tour through Triip, in which the company receives 10 per cent of the total transaction.
Triip is currently available in 86 countries, across 600 cities with 5,000 experiences curated by over 9,000 Triip Creators, a strong growth from 10 countries and 300 experiences in December 2014.
With this round of financing, Triip plans to focus on talent acquisition, which will be the foundation for future company growth, the release said.
“Triip is designed to be a long-lasting, impactful platform. We are changing the way people travel worldwide, creating jobs for locals and helping cities preserve local cultures. In doing so, Triip is creating tangible benefits for tour guides, travelers and local governments in both Vietnam and around the world,” said Hai Ho, founder of Triip, who is actually husband of his co-founder Ha Lam.
In addition to Triip, Gobi Partners’ tourism exploring portfolios also include listed Chinese tour package provider Tuniu, place of interest discovery app Spottly, and Indonesian travel platform Tripvisto.