[Funding alert] Social travel commerce startup Airblack raises $1.5M seed funding led by SAIF Partners
Social travel commerce platform Airblack has raised $1.5 million seed funding led by SAIF Partners. Founded in February this year by Pulkit Pujara and Videt Jaiswal, who were investors at SAIF, Airblack uses WhatsApp and Instagram to connect travellers with other verified power travellers and influencers on a personal chat to exchange recommendations around their travel plans.
The platform is currently in private-beta. With this funding, the team plans to launch its consumer product, ramp up the traveller community base, and hire the core team.
Speaking on the fund raise, Videt said:
"Lot of content on platforms such as Instagram and travel blogs has made travellers more confident to travel but at the same time, it has also created a problem of information overload, which leads to anxiety and confusion. We saw there is a strong social need in travellers 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.”
Founders of Airblack - Videt Jaiswal and Pulkit Pujara (L-R)
Prior to working at SAIF, Pulkit, a graduate of IIT-Delhi, worked in the likes of Grofers and Deutsche Bank. Videt, on the other hand, has worked at Boston Consulting Group and co-founded a content startup. Their new platform claims to have already helped more than 1,000 travellers with their travel plans.
Speaking of their investment in the company, Mayank Khanduja, Principal, SAIF Partners, said:
"Over $600 billion is spent on international travel in Asia, and we see India's international travel market at an inflection point already. We strongly believe that a large wave of the new consumer demand in travel will be led by people who like to have independence in planning their trips. With increasing disposable income, spend on international travel will go up. And these users will look for social validation online before deciding on a high involvement purchase like travel. We were impressed by the team's unique insights and community-driven approach to cater to this traveller."
The team says travel companies have raised more than $1 billion in VC funding in the past five years. This includes short-term rental startups, travel and tourism apps, marketplaces for experiences, and other travel and hospitality tech platforms. SAIF Partners itself, which manages over $4 billion in assets across India and China, has backed MakeMyTrip, Treebo, and Travel Triangle.