Asia-focused VC firm SAIF Partners has invested $1.5 million in New Delhi based social-travel commerce startup, Airblack according to a statement.
Started in February 2019 by Pulkit Pujara and Videt Jaiswal, Airblack leverages WhatsApp and Instagram ecosystem to connect travellers with verified network of power travellers and travel influencers.
The seed round will be utilized for launching their consumer product, ramping up their traveller community and hiring of core team. The platform has already helped more than 1000 travellers with their travel plans.
This is the latest early-stage investment announced by SAIF Partners, which manages over $4 billion in assets across India & China. The multi-stage, sector agnostic fund has earlier backed Paytm, MakeMyTrip, Meesho, ShareChat, Swiggy and Urbanclap at an early-stage. Besides MakeyMyTrip, SAIF has invested in other travel start-ups such as Treebo and Travel Triangle.
"Over $600 billion is spent on international travel in Asia, and we see India's international travel market at an inflection point already. We strongly believe that a large wave of the new consumer demand in travel will be led by people who like to have independence in planning their trips. With increasing disposable income, spend on international travel will go up. And these users will look for social validation online before deciding on a high involvement purchase like travel. We were impressed by the team's unique insights and community-driven approach to cater to this traveller", says Mayank Khanduja, Principal, SAIF Partners.
"Lot of content on platforms such as Instagram and travel blogs has made travellers more confident to travel but at the same time, it has also created a problem of information overload that leads to anxiety and confusion. We saw there is a strong social need in travellers here to talk to other travellers before taking purchase decisions, and an aversion to talk to travel agents because they are not relatable to this audience. We are focused on creating a strong trust layer in this category.” says Videt, co-founder, Airblack.
In the last five years, travel companies have raised more than $1 billion in venture capital funding. That includes short-term rental start-ups, travel and tourism apps, marketplaces for “experiences” and other travel or hospitality tech platforms.