Travel discovery startup Gogobot has spent the last several years helping users to find places to go and things to do, but to date it’s mostly done that by word of mouth. Today the company is announcing that it’s received some strategic backing from HomeAway, which should help it expand its marketing and distribution efforts.
Gogobot has a website and mobile apps focused on helping users discover things to do based on their interests and travel style. By letting the service know what they like to do — that is, what kind of Tribe they belong to — Gogobot hopes to provide personalized recommendations for interesting things nearby.
To expand its business, Gogobot has raised $20 million in Series C financing led by HomeAway, and the vacation rental company’s CEO Brian Sharples will be joining Gogobot’s board of directors. Existing investors Redpoint Ventures and Battery Ventures also participated in the round.
The new funding comes nearly three years since Gogobot last raised financing, and the amount of users and content available on the site has grown dramatically since then. According to founder Travis Katz, there are now more than 780,000 reviews on the site and 4 million photos of places that have been contributed by users.
It’s been able to achieve that with a surprisingly small staff. The company is about 20 people right now and most of those employees are in engineering, Katz tells me, but with the new funding it will be recruiting aggressively. It’ll be looking to ramp up its sales and marketing team as it looks to grow its user base and increase monetization of its site and mobile apps.
On the monetization side, it makes money acting as lead-generation for a number of third-party travel services, including hotels and vacation rentals. It also gets advertising mostly through its website. Through those channels, revenue has doubled over the past year and the year before that, Katz says.
Even so there’s still a lot the company can do to grow its user base, and that’s where the strategic part of the investment comes in.
“We structured the deal where not only are they investing, but we’ve also done a partnership where we’ll be doing smart integrations that can springboard Gogobot for growth,” Katz told me.
Gogobot and HomeAway have already been partners for a while, with Gogobot providing a way for HomeAway home owners to create virtual guides of things to do near their rental properties. There will be further integrations to help Gogobot benefit from HomeAway’s user base, according to Katz. In the meantime, the funding gives Gogobot plenty of runway as it looks to grow.