SmarterTravel sheds HopJump name, begins a new journey with $9.5M round

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As more and more people become comfortable traveling amid the global pandemic, travel startups continue to raise venture capital dollars. The latest is SmarterTravel, which brought in $9.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Link Ventures and Second Alpha, with existing investors also participating.

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In addition to the fundraising, the company, a provider of personalized travel recommendations and targeted travel content, announced its name change from HopJump, reflecting the company’s renewed vision of providing an informative online travel experience, CEO Jordan Staub told Nerdshala. Told.

SmartTravel CEO Jordan Staub. image credit: smart travel

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SmarterTravel has 7 million email newsletter subscribers and uses proprietary artificial intelligence fixes to deliver travel information and discounts to customers. The company writes articles on every aspect of travel to inform customers, especially now that airlines, hotels, and countries impose certain restrictions on travel.

“The travel consumer is changing how they absorb information,” Staub said. “Consumers are coming to us instead of visiting 20 websites before booking. Previously, you could comb through reviews, but now you just want to tell an expert, and that’s what we are. “

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HopJump was started in 2018 by Staab as a digital marketing agency helping big brands with user acquisition campaigns. As it was building out an initial public offering, Staub said the company wanted to move into building its own brand and saw an opportunity in Journey, which accounts for a large market – 10% of global GDP. %, They said.

The company offered consumers hotel discount travel pricing, but found it challenging. Staub explained that there are many nuances and different approaches to offering four-star hotel rooms for two-star prices and a bundling strategy.

“We fell in love with simplifying the process,” he said. “Consumers just want a good price from a company they trust, and that’s what we set out to solve.”

In January 2020, the company launched its first product and added 60 members in the first few months, but then was hit by the global pandemic. Suddenly, HopJump went from managing rapid growth to managing how the company could take off.

Still eager to stay in travel, the company turned to marketing so it could continue to investigate the travel industry, he said. While the company was figuring out its next move, Staub said the people at SmartTravel were helpful to him, and that was when he heard that its parent company, TripAdvisor, needed to lay off, and that division was going to go. , so he decided to buy that property along with seven others, including Airfarewatchdog, Family Vacation Critic, and Oysters. The deal closed in 2020.

Lisa Dolan, managing director of Link Ventures, said that SmartTravel’s growth was one of the drivers of her firm’s investment. When no one was traveling due to COVID, the company acquired travel companies and made it through the pandemic, while other startups in the space were struggling.

She also cited its strong revenue-generating business on the email side and how it capitalized on the fact that even in the pandemic, people were searching the web for car rentals, things to do in certain cities, and vacation inspiration. .

SmarterTravel a. going after American travel and tourism industry It was valued at $580.7 billion in 2019. It’s also not the only one to have attracted investor attention lately. For example, in the past month, companies like Thatch raised $3 million for its platform aimed at travel creators, travel tech company Hopper brought in $175 million, Wheel the World raised $7 million for its disability-friendly vacation planner. 2 million and Elude raised $2.1 million. Bring back the smooth journey in a hard-hit industry.

In the meantime, the funding will drive SmarterTravel’s goal of rapidly advancing, getting its name out there, building new travel products, and hiring key employees. The company already has 50 people, but more is needed, Staub said.

“The journey has had a tough few years, but parts of it are back, and we’re seeing it,” he said. “In a year that should have been a bad year, our growth has been good. Our revenue has grown eight times in the last 12 months. We are growing, making profit and have extra money to lean into growth. It’s not going to be easy growth, but we’re in a good position to understand how to make it happen.”

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