Travelstart has announced the closing of its R645 million ($US40m) funding from MTN and Amadeus Capital Partners.
Travelstart, Africa’s largest platform for booking flights, hotels and rental cars, has secured funding from MTN and global technology investors Amadeus Capital Partners. The investment will be used to accelerate the company’s rapid growth into new markets and further entrench its dominance on the continent as an online travel booking portal.
The investment round is led by UK-based technology investor Amadeus Capital Partners, with participation from the MTN Group [JSE: MTN].
Amadeus Capital Partners’ Andrea Traversone will join Travelstart’s Board of Directors as part of this financing. “The market potential for Travelstart is huge and the company is already a tour de force in emerging markets. They are one of the most profitable e-commerce companies on the African continent and with this new round of funding Travelstart will be able to fast-track its already rapid growth. We’re excited to spearhead this round and to see the company’s continued growth and success,” said Traversone.
“Travelstart’s goal has always been to put people in charge of their own travel arrangements – to help them save time and money while receiving excellent customer service,” says Stephan Ekbergh, CEO of Travelstart. “This capital gives us additional resources to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate rapidly, and deliver on our vision in more countries”.
Since launching in South Africa in 2006, Travelstart has grown to become Africa’s largest platform for flight, hotel and car hire bookings. In this time, the company has built distribution partnerships with more than 1000 third party websites through its Affiliate Program, launched its B2B offering called neXt, and has increased its standing as a forerunner in the mobile app space last year launching Flapp – a unique app which allows users to book flights on single popular “commuter” routes in seconds.
In addition to its large booking inventory, in recent years, Travelstart has focused on expanding into emerging markets throughout Africa, the Middle East and Turkey.
Today, Travelstart has more than 2 million monthly users in 16 countries who use its secure technology to book flights, hotels and rental cars around the world. Travelstart’s meteoric growth has been driven by Internet penetration growth and fast paced smartphone connectedness rates in the regions they operate.
Over the last year, Travelstart has grown its staff to well over 200 located in Cape Town, Lagos, Cairo, Dar es Salaam, Dubai and Istanbul. Building on this momentum, Travelstart will use the additional financing to continue expanding its global reach, accelerate product growth and innovation, and invest in additional sales and marketing resources.
Herman Singh, Group Chief Digital Officer, MTN, added: “MTN’s vision is one of delivering a Bold New Digital World and this investment in partnership with Amadeus is a key step on a multi-year journey to achieve that promise. It strongly complements our existing investments in online and e-commerce in retail, marketplaces, classifieds and travel. This investment in the largest multi-national player in a very large and rapidly growing market positions MTN as an enabler of exciting new leading edge businesses. The MTN footprint, subscriber base, payment capability, network and brand awareness strongly underpin the synergies already being manifested in our other investments. We look forward to working with Amadeus and the Travelstart team to accelerate the business development of this adjacency.”
With this investment, Andrea Traversone, Investment Partner at Amadeus Capital Partners, and Stephan Ekbergh, Chief Executive Officer of Travelstart have joined Travelstart’s Board of Directors. Travelstart’s financial advisor for this transaction was EOC Partners LLP.