A London startup is betting that travelers will take mystery vacations, learning their destinations at the airport. A Czech travel agency raises $100 million for expansion. And other venture capital and funding news this week.
Megha Chaturvedi has been married nine years: She booked their vacations, and her husband usually didn’t even know where they were going. Now she’s turned that idea into a company.
Chaturvedi and two partners just raised 1.75 million British pounds ($2.1 million US) of seed capital to turn London tour operator Journee into a bet that other people are like her husband: Surprise them thoughtfully, and they’ll have a good time.
It works a bit like Netflix: Tell Journee’s algorithm what you’re looking for – scenery, history or local food – and it plans a trip that fits the customer’s budget. The company picks lodging, flights, activities, even restaurants for four days or more. (All trips leave from London). Then Journee makes a proposal telling the customer about where they’re going, without naming the city. The customer then decides whether to buy it or not.
“We’ve never sent someone to Paris,” Chaturvedi says. “We can match them to a trip they end up loving, but would never think of themselves.”
The most common destination so far: Romania. It’s off the beaten path, pretty, and has lots of medieval history, she said.
Chaturvedi and her cofounders, Ed Tribe and James Gillard, worked together at online fashion site Depop. Depop’s founder Simon Beckerman and CEO Maria Raga both invested in Journee, in a round led by Fuel Ventures. The company opened Journeetrips.com in 2019, but the Covid pandemic set them back, Chaturvedi says. More than 1,500 customers so far have taken the plunge, she said.
The customer gets a written Trip Pack a week before departure that contains the name of the destination, but most open it at the airport, the…