Ten months ago London startup Duffel hinted that it would be “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience ‘end to end’”, and announced a healthy $4.7M funding round, but not much else.
Today it goes further, announcing a $21.5m in Series A funding from US VC giant Benchmark, which also backed Snap, Twitter and Uber. Benchmark is joined by Blossom Capital and Index Ventures, who participated in Duffel’s $4.7m seed round last year.
With this news, we at least get a little more detail. It will be a B2B offering, allowing individual travel agents to large online travel management companies and tour operators to offer a “seamless travel experience” to their end customers, making the booking experience simpler, faster and cheaper.
Is this a new Sabre? Steve Domin, co-founder and CEO of Duffel, hints that it might be along those lines: “The travel industry is underpinned by archaic software and processes that are fundamentally prohibitive for the modern day traveler. We are reinventing the underwiring between online agents and the providers – airlines, hotels, transport operators – in much the same way that the payments world is changing for merchants, because of tools like Adyen and Stripe.”
In other words, Duffel appears to be building a new software stack for travel, in the same way that challenger banks started from scratch to make themselves more agile than the laggard, incumbent banks.
Duffel was one of the Y Combinator S18 cohort and has put together a team drawn from their alumni companies including GoCardless, Gitlab and Turo. It plans to launch this Autumn.
Chetan Puttagunta, general partner at Benchmark, said: “We have been watching Duffel from a distance and we are incredibly excited by the possibility it has to create something valuable for customers and travel providers alike. Duffel is focused on providing a better booking experience by building a platform that is easy to use with deep functionality.”
Ophelia Brown, founder of Blossom Capital, said: “Duffel has been clear on its vision to improve the travel experience for everyone from day one. This is a great example of the way that European founders are becoming more ambitious than ever before.”
The market is waiting with baited-breath to find out if Duffel’s stellar fund-raising capabilities can eventually match the claims made for the product.