Zozi, the travel tech startup has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Pritzker Vlock Ventures along with Richard Branson, Par Capital Ventures, 500 Startups, Dolby Family Ventures and Bridge Bank.
Zozi is a reservation and payments platform and marketplace for tours and activities that uses its software to connect merchants with travelers looking for deals. The startup company kickstarted as an online seller with outdoor activities and adventure travel packages with an e-commerce component. The vendors pay the company through a monthly subscription and travelers through a transaction fee during the online booking process. In 2013, it launched a software called Zozi Advance to also help merchants like hiking tour guide or kayaking rentals business – to take up bookings and do payments online. This software quadrupled its revenue in a year’s time.
The founder and CEO of Zozi TJ Sassani said that the company’s business-to-business model makes it somewhat like Open Table, the reservations app and other travel or activities-booking websites. It focuses similar market to those buying the Groupon Getaways or HipMunk for travel and tourism deals. The startup acquired real-time reservation system TripFlavor in 2013 and has been developing its reservation SaaS offerings for merchants on the platform since that time.
With the new flow of funds, the startup plans to continue expansion to more merchants on Zozi advance, the reservations, payments and customer management software portion of the platform and Zozi.com. Works are on to make the site more appealing to the millennial market. Sassani said, “We want to own the booking platform, then capture the local market and then we’ll capture the tourist.” The new funds have raised the Zozi’s total capital to $44 million.
Despite the number of other startups moving towards the back-end systems of the travel industry are increasing, T.J. Sassani said that the company is aiming to take on much bigger competitors like TripAdvisor and Eventbrite. It has competition from large players to small startups like Peek Travel, Zerve etc., Inspite of the competitions from the other players, the startup stands ahead with its two-pronged approach of offering tools and services for merchants and directly consumer-facing website. This serves as its competitive edge for the startup among its competitors. The company claims to have sold more than 5 million activities on behalf of its merchants.
The startup’s earliest backers Elon Boms said the company is looking and targeting into a larger trend that the consumers these days are ready to spend their income on ‘activities and experiences’ and are hunting for platforms that allow them to book and find it easily. This niche market helps the company to grow quicker.
The focus and the working model of the Zozi attracted Branson to participate in this funding round. “I have founded many companies that have disrupted markets over the years, and it’s clear to me that Zozi is leading a revolution with its innovative online booking software for activity businesses and consumer marketplace,” he said in the statement.