Mumbai-based travel-tech startup Ithaka which is managed by Traveljunkie Solutions Pvt. Ltd has raised ₹2.1 crores ($325,000) in seed funding from a clutch of angel investors based in the US, Singapore, and India. Ankit Gupta, co-founder of LinkedIn Pulse, and Puneet Motihar, a Jet Airways employee participated in the round to put in cash.
The funds will be used to build a personal, chat-based travel planning experience and forge overseas partnerships. The startup was founded by IIT-Bombay graduates Ameya Sahasrabudhe and Rahul Singh in 2015. They started off as a market for travel experience and later upgraded to chat-based travel assistance.
Ithaka now uses chat systems to provide users with real-time advice from destination experts. The app is available on Google Play and App Store and currently, serves in Thailand and Indonesia. However, the startup is looking forward to expanding its operations in various Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam by June this year.
The revenue model is crystal clear i.e charging commissions to operators and vendors selling local activities and experiences while keeping the user side absolutely free from expenses. Ameya and Rahul will strengthen the team by hiring engineers to ramp up its offerings and leverage machine learning.
“Scaling this [business] is hard both on the UX and technology front. We are looking to hire prime engineering talent to meet this head-on,” said Singh to VCCircle. “We are reducing human expert dependence, which involves using our user data for machine learning-driven recommendations,” he added.
Earlier this year, travel search portal ixigo raised $15 million in Series B round led by Sequoia Capital. In January, ixigo acqui-hired mobile content-sharing app Reach and also raised funds from Chinese conglomerate Fosun International.