Bookaway books $35 million to scale up its ground transportation booking platform – TechCrunch

Travel and tourism are coming back online in the wake of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, and today a startup tackling part of the equation of getting from home to destination is announcing some funding to capitalize on it. Bookaway, which has built a platform where people can view options for and book their land transportation — travel from a long-haul arrival point to a hotel or other final destination, with some 7,000 providers in total currently — has raised $35 million .

The Tel Aviv startup’s Series C is led by Red Dot Capital Partners. Menorah, an insurance company based in Tel Aviv, and New York-based Tenere Capital, along with past lenders Aleph, Corner Ventures and Entrée Capital are all participating as well. The company is not disclosing its valuation, but it has raised $81 million so far.

The travel industry sometimes feels like it is in a constant state of consolidation: partly due to price pressures resulting from the slowdown in recent years; rising fuel prices; and general competition, companies such as Airbnb or Booking, airlines and hotel groups are building more services into their offerings in an effort to improve their margins and bring greater economies of scale to their operations.

But Noam Toister, the CEO and founder of Bookaway, believes that a huge opportunity remains in ground transportation, largely because of the offline and fragmented way it is, including when it comes to traveling to remote or exotic locations.

“Our group was born during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a shared belief that the ground transportation industry will better meet the needs of travelers when it is united, not fragmented,” he said. The company has already made four acquisitions, underscoring how some of that defragmentation will consolidate within the specific field of ground transportation itself. Originally established to provide services in Asia as, it began raising money to buy up other similar businesses for a time when the tide would turn: the acquisitions of 12Go and GetByBus followed to expand in Asia Pacific and the Balkans, and then Plataforma 10 in Argentina.

In total, the company has brought together thousands of providers – most of them independent and very local companies – on a platform that travelers can use to pre-book their journeys, with providers such as buses, ferries, trains, private transport options and more. Digitizing that experience in itself is a major undertaking and change: Some 95% of ground transportation providers are “offline”, according to Toister, and there are about 10,000 of them worldwide in what makes up an annual market of $157 billion. is. “When you travel around the world, you book flights and hotels, but most destinations still don’t have an airport,” he said, meaning getting from the airport to the hotel is a trek, “and it’s difficult at the moment. to book transport.”

He notes that Uber and similar companies are not currently seen as competitors, although Uber has recently begun to enter this market, posing a potential threat, or perhaps a partner. “Connecting to 7,000 transportation companies worldwide is a tough job,” says Toister.

“This is an experienced management team that has previously grown successful travel technology companies,” Barak Saloman, managing partner, Red Dot Capital Partners, said in a statement. “A complex task such as globalizing ground transport requires local knowledge, technological expertise and experience in the sector. Bookaway Group has all three and they are doing everything they can to conquer this market.”

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