Travelstop, a Singapore-based travel startup founded by a team of former Yahoo! and Expedia employees, announced that it has raised $1.2-million seed funding from a group of investors led by SeedPlus, a Singaporean seed-stage venture fund.
An unnamed travel-focused venture capital firm based in the US also joined the round, along with industry executives such as former ex-Expedia senior business leaders Dan Lynn and Vikram Malhi; Rally Health President and COO David Ko; and Hyper Island Singapore regional operations director Jarrod Howe.
Travelstop, which launches operations in Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia on Monday, is an AI-powered software-as-a-service platform that seeks to simplify business travels for corporates in Asia, which the company said is 90 per cent unmanaged.
“Business travelers deserve to experience all the innovation and progress that the consumer space has made over the last several years. Our goal is to leverage machine learning and AI to power experiences for today’s business traveler,” Travelstop CTO Vijay Aggarwal said.
A white paper released by the World Travel and Tourism Council in 2017 highlighted the top 10 countries with the strongest forecast for annual business travel growth over the next 10 years. They include, in Asia, China with 9.5 per cent annual growth, followed by Myanmar (8.7 per cent), Hong Kong (8 per cent), Cambodia (7.4 per cent), and India (7.2 per cent).
Travelstop CEO Prashant Kirtane said the funding will be used to drive product development, build a development team in Singapore, and to ramp up growth through sales and marketing.
“In 2018, we will focus our energies on a few priority markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and will look to expand beyond these markets in 2019,” he said.
Kirtane previously held senior management positions at Yahoo! and Expedia and founded travelmob.com, which was acquired by HomeAway-Expedia in 2015.
The startup said it provides a platform that “simplifies” business travel booking and “automates” the expense reporting process for employees.
“Our goal is to not only provide a delightful and flexible travel booking experience but also make the post-trip expense management process more efficient,” Kirtane said.
The lead investor, SeedPlus, was launched in 2016 by Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, in collaboration with SGInnovate, Accel Partners (India) and Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates, among others.
Supported by Google and PwC Singapore, it is focused on investing in and helping build Asia’s most disruptive start-ups across software-as-a-service (SaaS), mobile, financial technology, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity and other emerging technology areas. SeedPlus invests up to $1 million in its portfolio companies.