Gurgaon-based Airblack, an end-to-end travel ecosystem for the new-age independent millennial travelers, which is yet to be launched, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from SAIF Partners, a Hong Kong-based Asia-focussed venture and growth capital fund.
The startup will utilise the seed capital for launching its product, ramping up its traveler community and hiring of a core team.
Founded this year, by Pulkit Pujara (IIT Delhi) and Videt Jaiswal (NSIT), Airblack is essentially a social-travel commerce startup that is connecting users with verified network of power travelers and travel influencers on a personal chat for exchanging recommendations around their travel plans.
Airblack, which claims to have helped more than 1000 travellers with their travel plans, leverages WhatsApp and Instagram ecosystem to connect travelers with verified network of power travelers and travel influencers.
Notably, both Pulkit and Videt are former executives at SAIF Partners. Pulkit was also AVP of Operations at online grocer Grofers. Videt has earlier worked at Boston Consulting Group and co-founded a content startup, which he exited eventually
Over one-third of US $600 billion that is spent on international travel in Asia is spent by millennials. Over two-thirds of travelers in this generation plan and book independently and Airblack is leveraging on this generational shift in the consumer travel space in Asia.
“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, that leads to anxiety and confusion. We saw there is a strong social need in travellers here 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,” says Videt, co-founder, Airblack.
Mayank Khanduja, Principal, SAIF Partners, said in a statement, “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 traveler.”
SAIF Partners, which manages over $4 billion in assets across India & China, has earlier invested Rs 60 crore in High Street Essentials (HSE), which owns women-centric fashion brands – FabAlley and Indya, in December last year.
SAIF is also known for backing Paytm, MakeMyTrip, Meesho, ShareChat, Swiggy and Urbanclap at an early-stage. Besides MakeyMyTrip, SAIF has invested in other travel startups such as Treebo and Travel Triangle.