Toronto-based hotel booking service SnapTravel has closed its Series A financing at about $28 million (US$21.2 million).
The round’s US$13.2 million second tranche, which added to an initial US$8 million raised last year, was backed by Telstra Ventures, the investment arm of Australia’s Telstra Corp Ltd, and NBA player Stephen Curry.
The first tranche was led by iNovia Capital.
Founded in 2016 by CEO Hussein Fazal and CTO Henry Shi, SnapTravel uses machine learning and natural language processing to help consumers book hotels through conversations with a travel assistant.
To date, it has facilitated conversations with more than 2 million consumers in over 150 countries.
The funds raised will be used by SnapTravel to enhance its technology.
Photo (left to right): Henry Shi, co-founder and CTO of SnapTravel, NBA player Stephen Curry, Hussein Fazal, co-founder and CEO of SnapTravel.
SnapTravel Raises New Investment, Closes Series A at $21.2 Million
Funding Round Includes Investment From Stephen Curry, Will Accelerate Growth in Message-Driven Commerce
TORONTO, Dec. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SnapTravel, the leader in message-driven commerce and the premier travel assistant, today announced it has closed a $21.2 million (USD) Series A funding round, adding $13.2 million (USD) in new investments to its initial raise of $8 million (USD) in July 2017. New investors include Telstra Ventures and NBA player Stephen Curry.
With SnapTravel, consumers can book hotels through conversations with an AI-based travel assistant. Powered by a combination of machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and the occasional human touch, SnapTravel curates personalized hotel offers over SMS, voice, and the messaging platforms consumers already frequent, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
“Online hotel booking is an incredibly transactional and noisy process, where pop-ups and expiring offers inundate consumers,” said Co-founder and CEO Hussein Fazal. “We are reimagining this experience – making booking hotels feel as natural and personal as talking to a friend. Beyond travel, we’re at the start of a shift in which consumers no longer shop on individual websites or apps, but entirely via conversations with brands.”
Founded in 2016, SnapTravel has had conversations with over 2 million consumers in over 150 countries to date. An early leader in conversational commerce, SnapTravel is one of Facebook’s preferred partners engineering message-driven brand experiences on Messenger and Whatsapp.
“Conversational commerce is an area of immense opportunity and interest for us, and the level of consumer adoption that SnapTravel has achieved in this space so far is extraordinary,” said Liron Wand, Head of Partnerships, Messenger at Facebook. “This is not only a unique approach to booking hotels, but also a new outlook on commerce as a whole. We’re partnering with SnapTravel to create seamless experiences for Facebook users today, and design what message-driven commerce looks like in the next five years.”
In addition to being available on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, consumers can access SnapTravel to book hotels over SMS, iMessage, RCS, Viber, Slack, and Alexa.
“We’re always looking to invest in lighthouse entrepreneurs operating in sectors poised for rapid growth and disruption,” said Yash Patel, Principal and lead consumer technology investor at Telstra Ventures. “SnapTravel sits at the intersection of two trends we believe in: the growth of messaging-based commerce and the continued disruption of the enormous travel market. This is an area where many incumbents have yet to successfully leverage the growing shift in consumer purchase behavior from offline, web, and mobile apps to messaging and voice. I’m thrilled to partner with Hussein and Henry after having had the chance to observe SnapTravel’s swift evolution from an idea a few years ago to one of the more popular conversational commerce experiences on Facebook Messenger.”
“We look for companies that are disruptive and challenge an industry’s status quo. SnapTravel is doing just that with conversational commerce and we want to be part of it,” said Bryant Barr, President of SC30, Inc., the company that manages Curry’s investment, brand partnership, media and philanthropic interests. “They’re in a unique position to lead more than just the travel industry, but rather the entire e-commerce landscape by transforming how consumers make purchasing decisions online through delightful experiences.”
This latest funding round will be used to further enhance the user experience, namely by continuing to develop SnapTravel’s machine learning and NLP technology.
SnapTravel is a leader in message-driven commerce and the premier hotel booking travel assistant, allowing users to book hotels over SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and voice. Based in Toronto, SnapTravel was co-founded by Hussein Fazal and Henry Shi in 2016. Fazal previously built AdParlor, which was acquired by AdKnowledge. Shi previously built uMentioned and was an engineer at Google, helping to launch YouTube Music Insights. For more information, visit www.snaptravel.com.
LaunchSquad for SnapTravel