Headout, a US-based mobile marketplace for tours, activities and experiences has raised $1.8 million seed funding from US-based Version One Ventures, 500 Startups, Nexus Ventures Partners and Arena Ventures. It was also participated by Angellist’s Maiden Lane Ventures, Funders Club, Haystack Fund, Ludlow Ventures, Dreamit Ventures and other angels including Rick Marini, Fabrice Grinda, KKunal Bahl & Rohit Bansal and Neeraj Arora.
Headout was launched as Tourlandish from Bangalore with US as the target market. The app is currently active in the cities of New York and Las Vegas and is an on-demand mobile marketplace that helps travelers discover and book tours, activities, events and local experiences in town for 24 hours. Founded in July 2014 by Varun Khona, Suren Sultania and Vikram Jit Singh, the startup offers affordable prices for last-minute tour packages, which is usually pretty expensive if booked through regular travel websites. This feature is what keeps the startup apart from others in the market.
CEO of Headout, Varun Khona who currently manages the offices in New York, San Francisco and Bengaluru said in an interview, “A few months ago, we tried to raise a small amount, which was really difficult because we did not have numbers. That’s when we realized it’s the product first. Money follows the product.” He added, “For this fundraising, we raised a half a million dollars in the first couple of days and went on to be offered twice the amount we were expecting to raise.”
It is understood that Headout will make use of the funds to widen their services to 12 more cities across the US by the end of the year and for expansion the available resources in the three offices from where the company functions. Also this funding will make the company an omnipresent brand that can show the best a city can offer to a traveler on his finger tips.
Dave McClure, Founding Partner at 500 Startups say, “Headhunt is a kick-ass mobile marketplace for finding great on-demand tours & activities. Especially for folks like me who do not always plan ahead, it’s an easy way to find amazing places to visit and fun stuff to do. The team also hustles almost as hard as I do.. well, maybe even a little harder.”
The Android and iOS app is an interesting case of Indian entrepreneurs starting a B2C travel app in the US. To a certain extent, it has been right because of the co-founding team’s experiences when living in the US. Varun claims that they are the first service built for travelers who are already in the destination and are looking activities around on-demand. The real competition, he says. lies on the offline channels like tour brochures, tourist information centers, scalpers, concierge desks and walk-ins.