Exclusive: Air-travel lending platform Mihuru raises seed funding

Exclusive: Air-travel lending platform Mihuru raises seed funding
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23 Apr, 2018

Mihuru Pvt. Ltd, a startup which gives micro loans for air travel through its online platform, has received seed money worth $150,000 (Rs 99.3 lakh) in its first round of external funding that saw participation from entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals. The company, however, chose not to name its investors.

The funds will be used to enrich products and expand team, Shruti Mehrotra, co-founder and chief executive of Mumbai-based Mihuru, told TechCircle. “Mihuru will also expand into credit products for travel verticals other than flights," she said.

The funds, Mehrotra said, will also help the Mumbai-based firm build a platform that will let travellers split payment for their entire journey across months and payment methods.

The startup, which operates in the online travel segment dominated by MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, Yatra and others, lets travellers pay only 20% of the flight cost upfront. It purchases the ticket on their behalf for a fee, its primary source of revenue. The balance of the flight cost has to be paid before the flight.

Mihuru targets young Indians who don’t have access to traditional credit scores or have caps on their credit cards. The startup evaluates potential customers’ digital footprints and does a psycholinguistic assessment before approving credit to them through an online process that it says takes less than five minutes.

Mihuru was founded in 2016 by Shruti Mehrotra and Jonathan Nunez Gonzalez. It helps travellers pay for their flight tickets in EMIs (equated monthly instalments), without a credit card or credit scores. After bootstrapping, the company has now raised seed funds.

Its co-founder Mehrotra has worked alongside startups during her years in private equity across India, US and South East Asia. She has an MBA degree from the Kellogg School of Management, US.

Mihuru was recently selected as one of the 20 winners of InFinIT20, an initiative by RBL Bank and Startup India.

Deals in the travel space
In October 2016, in the biggest-ever consolidation move in the online travel space in India, Nasdaq-listed MakeMyTrip agreed to buy Ibibo Group, co-owned by South African technology group Naspers Ltd and Chinese investment firm Tencent.

Also, in July 2016, Yatra had entered into a reverse-merger agreement with a US-based special purpose acquisition company. This paved the way for a December 2016 listing for a second Indian online travel agent in the US, after MakeMyTrip. 

Recently, growth-capital firm The Fundamentum Partnership poured $12 million (Rs 78 crore) into holiday-packages marketplace TravelTriangle. 

Last month, Shorebird Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs corporate travel management platform Tripeur, raised $600,000 (Rs 3.90 crore) in a pre-Series A round led by Japan-based Incubate Fund. 

In November 2017, Bengaluru-based travel-tech startup Itilite Technologies Pvt. Ltd raised an undisclosed amount from US-based private equity investment firm Matrix Partners.