Recent News

Corporate travel startup receives US$3M pre-Series A funding

Travelstop 2

Travelstop 1

18/07/2019 – Travelstop has raised US$3M in a pre-Series A round led by Accel, the American venture capital firm that has funded famed technology companies such as Facebook and Spotify. The round was also joined by Strive (formerly GREE Ventures), and see the return of existing investor SeedPlus.

SeedPlus previously led the $1.2M seed funding in August 2018, which sees the involvement of investors such as Dan Lynn and Vikram Malhi, founders of Zuzu Hospitality Solutions, David Ko from Rally Health, and Jarrod Howe the regional operations director of Hyper Island Singapore.

Following the successful pre-Series A funding, Prashanth Prakash, a key member of Accel’s India team will be joining Travelstop’s board of directors.

Prakash said, “Travelstop is building a locally relevant solution for the millennial generation of business travelers. In less than a year, they’ve built a solid, category-defining business and launched a world-class product that has been adopted by a growing number of companies and their employees.”

Headquartered in Singapore, the startup was founded in 2016 by ex-Yahoo executives Prashant Kirtane, Vijay Aggarwal, and Altaf Dhamani. Aiming to simplify the corporate travel scene in Asia, Travelstop provides an AI-powered all in one platform that combines flight and hotel booking, travel insurance, and expense reporting. A 24/7 support desk is also in the pipeline.

“We want to offer a much better experience for our business travelers. It starts with offering proactive support — building tools that constantly monitor schedule changes or flight disruptions, and reaching out to the travelers proactively to reschedule and plan alternatives,” said Kirtane.

He added, “We also want to make sure that the travelers can reach out to us at any time with ease, with chat support, and that the median time it takes for our team to respond is less than two minutes.”

On a different note, Travelstop announced a partnership with Indonesia-based unicorn Traveloka.

The Indonesian company will make available its flights and hotel inventory on Travelstop’s platform. The partnership is a key strategic move to provide the most comprehensive travel inventory to corporate travelers, reducing cost while boosting productivity, explains Kirtane.

Fresh funds from the latest funding round will be channeled into improving the platform’s technology and accelerating adoption rate across Asia.

Singapore’s AI Intelligence Platform secures US$100 million to offer new data suites


Near Founders

17/7/2019 – Singapore data startup Near has recently revealed that it raised US$100 million in a new round of financing from London private equity firm Greater Pacific Capital (GPC)

Founded in 2012, Near offers data-driven marketing and enrichment insights through a suite of SaaS products. The platform allows users and businesses to leverage audience, spatial, retail, among other data to improve their marketing decisions.

“Given it does this across the globe in a privacy-protected manner, it is well-positioned to create an exciting new space that delivers value to both people and companies that wish to build relationships with them,” commented Ketan Patel, the CEO of GPC.

In fact, the startup claims to be the largest source of intelligence on people and places, processing data from more than 1.6 billion monthly users across 44 countries.

Brands, enterprises, and publishers can get a quick view of what their global customers are doing on a given day in a privacy-led environment, giving companies the idea on what marketing tools and services to offer.

Its flagship SaaS product Allspark enables end-to-end marketing automation for clients and partners across more than 20 countries.

“We are the only company aggregating this quality and scale of data at a global level. Our product Allspark has scaled its SaaS revenues faster than anything we have historically seen,” said Near Founder and CEO Anil Matthews.

Near said the product has resulted in significant traction and growth since its intro in 2017,

Carbon, another product the startup launched earlier in the year, allows publishers to provide a more personalized service offering. The platform lets businesses draw on more information, which includes user’s spending patterns and the travel distance.

This funding comes two years after its last disclosed Series C financing from Cisco Investments and OurCrowd. In 2014, the startup has also secured US$19 million from Telstra Ventures and Global Brain as a part of its strategic plan to expand into multiple new markets.

With this latest funding, Near has now raised US$134 million in total funding, counting Sequoia Capital and JP Morgan as its investors.

Its client portfolio includes News Corp, MetLife, Mastercard, and WeWork, which leverages on continuous, accurate, and easy to access intelligence on people’s behavior in the real world.

Matthews said that the US$100 million round is one of the largest rounds in the AI industry, adding the new funding capital will go towards R&D for launching a suite of new data products, powered by the core platform.

The startup currently has a global presence across the United States, Europe, and the Asia Pacific including offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Tokyo, and Sydney.

As the company grows, Near plans to sell its services in India soon, while scaling up in other markets Australia, New Zealand, and the US. It also plans on expanding its team size, which currently consists of around 40 people in its Bengaluru office with a total of around 100 across all the teams.