Singapore-based traveltech startup Travelstop was launched today with a US$1.2 million seed funding round led by venture capital (VC) firm SeedPlus and an undisclosed US-based travel-focussed VC firm.
Dan Lynn and Vikram Malhi (ex-Expedia senior business leaders and founders of Zuzu Hospitality Solutions), David Ko (President & COO of Rally Health), and Jarrod Howe (Regional Operations Director at Hyper Island Singapore) also participated in the funding round.
“This round of funding will be used to drive product development, build a world-class 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,” Travelstop Co-Founder and CEO Prashant Kirtane said in a press statement.
Travelstop is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that provides mobile and desktop platform with the goal to simplify business travel booking and automates expense reporting process.
It reduces the time needed to book travels by utilising machine learning and AI-powered personalisation to make flights and hotel recommendations.
The platform works for any kind of expense, from travel expenses incurred on a business trip or more routine claims such as monthly phone bills.
“In all our experiences at previous employers, we were always frustrated with the process and tools available for business travel planning and expense reporting … So we decided to tackle this problem head-on and build something that we would love to use ourselves,” Kirtane wrote in an email to e27.
“We want to bring all the product innovation happening in the travel consumer space to the enterprise world—leveraging technologies such as machine learning and AI-driven personalisation to build a compelling and modern experience for today’s business traveller,” he continued.
Kirtane also said that in the coming “few months”, the startup plans to integrate the platform’s feature with existing HR and expense platforms used within a company.
It will also further strengthen and develop its machine learning to enhance its recommendation engine, and bring in more suppliers including vacation rental inventory.
“In the coming weeks, we’re planning to launch local language sites and native app for iOS,” Kirtane said.
The Travelstop co-founders have had significant experience in the traveltech industry.
CEO Kirtane founded travelmob, which was later acquired by HomeAway and Expedia. Together with CTO Vijay Aggarwal and CPO Altaf Dhamani, the co-founders had all worked at Yahoo!, travelmob, and HomeAway with Aggarwal and Kirtane holding senior management positions.
When asked about the lessons that he had learned from running companies in the traveltech sector, Kirtane listed the following: Focus on providing value, create business model innovation, focus on execution, and set up a “super” product engineering team.
“Travel ecosystem is extremely disjointed. You need an incredible engineering team to integrate with various inventory suppliers. You need to deal with hundreds of different systems, assimilate all the information and provide the best possible experience for the end-user in an Asian context of different languages and currencies,” Kirtane said.
Image Credit: Travelstop