QuaQua Experiences, which owns and operates content-driven virtual travel platform QuaQua, has raised $1 million in its first institutional funding round from early stage investment firm Anthill Ventures and other returning investors whose identities were not disclosed.
The startup said it will use the fresh funds to build a virtual reality (VR) platform that maps end-to-end travel journeys, from inspiration to planning, booking, travel support and memory sharing. It also plans to expand its booking inventory and create content for 125 additional tourist destinations in India, as per a statement.
QuaQua was part of A-Scale, a six-month access programme run by Anthill Ventures, in May last year.
The Hyderabad headquartered company was founded in 2016 by Purav Shah and Sandesh Reddy. It provides simulated tours of travel destinations to help users with travel research and planning. The platform integrates VR-enabled travel content, meta-information, community and bookings for travel destinations.
“While virtual travel is becoming the norm, short trips and staycations will drive demand in the domestic circuit. Our focus for this year will be on India-specific virtual content and personalised booking experiences,” co-founder Shah, also the CEO of QuaQua, said.
The firm claims to have more than 2.5 million users from over 100 countries.
“The current investment by Anthill Ventures and other existing partners will help us enhance the platform, launch offline travel experiences, create engaging content, including blogs, itineraries and virtual tours, as well as build an artificial intelligence-driven travel community,” co-founder Reddy, also the head of finance strategy at QuaQua, said.
Anthill Ventures runs a global speed-scaling platform for startups. The company, which has invested in 25 technology startups so far, focuses on verticals such as fintech, healthtech, mediatech and urbantech.
The investment comes at a time when travel and hospitality firms have resorted to cost-cutting measures to stay afloat. Several companies, including MakeMyTrip, OYO, Airbnb, Yatra, Cleartrip and Ixigo have announced layoffs or salary cuts. Ebix has pushed the deadline for the completion of its acquisition of Yatra Online for the fourth time in a little over a month.
The Covid-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on the travel industry. While domestic flights and train travel services have begun to resume operations in a staggered manner, there is no clarity on international travel yet.
In fact, online travel and tourism firms have expanded into adjacent business lines, such as affiliated ecommerce sales and staycation holidays to weather the economic winter. MakeMyTrip has rolled out an online gourmet delivery service in partnership with luxury and premium hotel chains and independent properties. Yatra, on the other hand, is gearing up to foray into online commerce of office supplies to leverage the strong corporate client base it caters to.