TripIt Owner Concur Launches $150 Million “Perfect Trip Fund” To Invest In Travel Startups; Invests $2 Million In Evature’s Virtual Travel Agent

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Concur, a travel and expense management solutions provider, and owner of popular mobile trip planning app TripIt, is announcing today the launch of a $150 million fund called the “Concur Perfect Trip Fund,” which will be used to invest in startups focused on innovations in the travel and expense space. Specifically, Concur is looking to fund companies which could integrate with its own Concur Connect platform, powered by the Concur T&E Cloud. This framework connects businesses and infrastructure across the travel and expense ecosystem in real-time.

As a part of today’s announcement, Concur also revealed that it has invested $2 million in Evature, a company whose “Expert Virtual Agent” (EVA) offers natural-language search for online travel. EVA, a virtual travel agent of sorts, uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to understand traveler’s requests. The company also mentioned its other startup investments have included buuteeq, a cloud-based digital marketing system for hotels, hotel search site Room 77, Yapta’s price tracking service, India’s online travel portal Cleartrip, and ground transportation startup, Taxi Magic.

Concur CEO Steve Singh said that the idea with the new fund is to “foster innovation and nurture game-changing technologies that can be leveraged by the entire business travel ecosystem,” he noted in a statement. “Along with our own path of innovation, we want to tap in to the creativity and entrepreneurship of the many smart companies in which we’ve invested,” Singh added.

There are several companies already participating as partners within Concur’s T&E Cloud, including consumer-facing startups like Lemon and TravelText; transportation providers Taxi Magic, GroundSpan, GroundScope and Limos.com; mobile-focused partners like Visage Mobile and Tango Card; and health care industry companies including AdvantageMS, Healthcare Data Solutions, MedPro Systems, Porzio Pharmaceutical Services and R-Squared.

We’ve reached out the company to get more info on its investment strategy, and will update when we hear back.

Update: The company told us that there is no target in terms of number of companies it will invest in per year. “Our seasoned team of investment professionals will evaluate all opportunities to invest in innovative companies that help achieve Concur’s vision of the perfect trip. Our fund is stage agnostic,” a company spokesperson said. “We are looking for great companies that radically improve the business travel experience for the traveler, for the companies that they work for and for suppliers.” The company also says the investment includes hands-on assistance for the funded companies, and some companies even ask Concur to join their boards, which it does from time to time. Steve Singh is on the board of buuteeq, for example, and Mike Hilton is on Yapta’s board.