On demand mobile marketplace, Headout, has raised INR 11.3 Cr ($1.8 Mn) seed funding from Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, WhatsApp vice president Neeraj Arora and Facebook adviser Rick Marini. The funding round was led by US-based early-stage fund Version One Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, 500 Startups and Arena Ventures.
Founded in 2014, Headout is an mobile marketplace that helps travelers discover & book the most incredible tours, activities, events & local experiences instantly. Varun Khona, Founder and CEO of Headout is an ex analyst from Goldman Sachs and has also been a cofounder at Trippy.co.in. Suren Sultania, co-founder and COO at Headout, is an ex participant of Dreamlt ventures and Vikramjit Singh, co-founder and CTO at Headout is an ex employee of Oracle.
The startup plans to infuse the funds in expanding its operations, technology, product and sales to 12 cities across US by the end of this year. It also plans to launch teams across its offices in New York, San Francisco and Bangalore.
Varun Khona, Founder and CEO, Headout said, “We are in talks with travel companies globally and in India for the partnership. The mobile marketplace will be accessible to travelers in India and will go live in the country within the next two years.”
Earlier named as Tourlandish, Headout, is a part of Silicon Valley based startup accelerator 500 Startups batch 11. The startup claims that it is the only player in the space where it bridges the gap between last minute online and offline travel booking through mobile. It offers booking in a span of 0-24 hrs with 15% cheaper pricing and three times faster checkout reaching out to 60% of more than 1 Bn travelers that look for local experiences at the last minute. The App is presently live in New York and Las Vegas.
The startup is serving thousands of guests from over 65 countries and are poised to grow 10x in 2015.
Serving the Demand
Headout, that serves the purpose of last-minute travel and event bookings, figures that the majority of demand for the $189 Bn tours and activities market lies when travelers are already in the destination. This demand is not being serviced by the current web-first aggregators that have almost no same-day inventory of substance, a below-par mobile product and flat pricing.
Pankaj Jain, venture partner at venture capital firm and startup accelerator, 500 Startups, said, “It’s about incredible execution with a solid team. That’s what investors care about. It highlights the fact that an Indian company can produce global quality businesses on the consumer side and not just B2B that the country is largely known for.”
Varun added that raising funds was not easy a few months back, that is when we realized that it’s the product that comes first, which will drive the money in. We planned to raise half a million dollars but the product sold so well that it drove twice the amount we were expecting.
Though Headout claims to be the only player in last minute booking and offering personal guide, there are players like Thrillophilia, Voyagin, Viator, BeMyGuest, Veltra, TravelToe, and VeloAsia in Asian markets, who are into the business of providing local experiences in travelling.
In a country like India, where majority of consumers are adapting to smartphones and with the rise of travel and tourism industry, Headout will certainly pave the way.