Airblack, a social commerce startup for travel, has raised $1.5 million (Rs 10.4 crore at current exchange rate) in a seed funding round from SAIF Partners, the venture capital firm said in a statement. The New Delhi-based platform, which uses WhatsApp and Instagram to connect travellers with influencers, is currently in private-beta mode.
The seed round will be used for launching consumer products, ramping up the traveller community and hiring of the core team, the statement added.
Airblack was started in February this year by Pulkit Pujara and Videt Jaiswal -- both were earlier a part of the investment team at SAIF Partners. Pujara had stints earlier at Grofers and Deutsche Bank and is a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. Jaiswal has worked at Boston Consulting Group and co-founded a content startup, The Custom-T, and is a graduate from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology.
"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,” said Jaiswal.
SAIF Partners manages over $4 billion in assets across India and China. The multi-stage, sector-agnostic fund has earlier backed companies including Paytm, MakeMyTrip, Meesho, ShareChat, Swiggy and UrbanClap at an early stage. SAIF has invested in other travel startups such as Treebo and Travel Triangle.
Developments in the space:
April 2019: Travel itinerary portal Tripoto.com raised fresh capital for expansion from new and previous investors in its Series B round of funding.
March 2019: Guiddoo World Travels Pvt. Ltd raised an undisclosed funding from two new investors.
February 2019: PickYourTrail, a startup that helps travellers plan and book multi-country vacations online, raised close to $3 million (Rs 21 crore then) in its Series A funding round.