New York- and Bengaluru-based Headout, which provides on-demand travel experiences, has raised $12 Mn in a Series B round led by Glade Brook Capital. Glade Brook Capital is also an investor in publicly-listed companies such as Airbnb, Meituan, Uber and delivery unicorn Instacart.
The round also saw participation from existing investors Version One Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, FJ Labs, 500 Startups, Haystack and Ludlow Ventures, while Espresso Capital and Practical VC have come on board as new investors.
The funding will be used for product development and expanding its product, business, marketing and operations teams across 300 more cities worldwide. Headout plans to hire more than 150 employees around the world; it is also looking for opportunities to acquihire travel and entertainment startups.
“The world is an incredibly boring place without travel and real-life experiences. Covid has only made us more relentless on our mission to inspire people to experience the world out there. With this round and our profitability milestone, all our focus is on expansion and long-term investments to aid travel recovery,” said Varun Khona, cofounder and chief executive officer, Headout.
Founded in 2014 by Suren Sultania, Varun Khona, and Vikram Jit Singh, Headout is a managed marketplace that helps individuals explore curated experiences in various cities around the world. Headout claims that it reached profitable EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in July this year.
Earlier called Tourlandish, Headout was part of Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator 500 Startups’ batch 11. At present, Headout serves 30 destinations around the world and claims to have over 9 Mn individuals leveraging various experiences offered on the platform.
Though Headout claims to be the only player in the last-minute booking and offering personal guide, there are players like Thrillophilia, Voyagin, Viator, BeMyGuest, Veltra, TravelToe, VeloAsia and the recently launched Zo World, in Asian markets, who are into the business of providing local experiences in travelling.
The travel industry has been the most impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, losing nearly three-quarters of its revenue that could amount up to INR 15 Lakh Cr, a. In 2019, travel and tourism accounted for more than $9 Bn of the global GDP or 10.4%; in the pandemic-hit 2020, it came down to 5.5% or a little more than $4 Bn
According to a 2020 statement by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the pandemic could wipe off 50 Mn jobs across this industry, and Asia was expected to be the worst affected.
As the lockdown and restrictions are slowly lifting up, foreign tourism will still remain low, but domestic tourism is picking pace. While eco-friendly and sustainable tourism is one of the fastest-growing trends in the travel industry, workcations, road trips, and solo trips have increasingly become common among travellers.