London-based travel startup, Much Better Adventures, which lets you book ‘active holidays’ with independent providers, has raised £400,000 in seed funding to expand its ski offering and launch a second vertical in the form of road cycling holidays.
The investment comes from pre-seed and seed investor, Seedcamp, alongside various travel operators using the platform, and a number of angel investors. They include Simon Lambert (ex-Lastminute.com, Treatwell – formerly Wahanda), Fred Ahlberg (ex-Ebay and King), Brett Akker (founder of Lovespace, Streetcar, ex-Zipcar) and James Kent (ex-Google). The Mayor of London’s Co-investment Fund also participated.
Launched in 2012, Much Better Adventures started life by listing the best independent skier-run chalets in Europe, seeing it ratchet up 50,000 overnight bookings. The site targets so-called “adventure travellers,” letting them discover, compare, book and review holidays with local and independent hosts, guides and tour operators. Armed with new funding, it’s adding road cycling holidays to its offering.
“The adventure holiday market is horribly fragmented. Local and independent operators are often really hard to find online. There are some amazing local hosts languishing on page 10 and beyond on Google, struggling to compete with the big boys in the industry,” says co-founder Sam Bruce, explaining the problem Much Better Adventures has set out to solve.
“This makes it incredibly difficult for customers to find and book with the best operators who offer a much better holiday experience than any of the large international tour operators ever could. Our solution is a transparent, scalable platform to help match customers with operators around their requirements and shared passions.”
In fact he and his co-founders, Alex Narracott and Guy Bowden, started the business out of a rented chalet in the French Alps before returning to London to raise investment, which has since seen the startup grow to a 12 person team.
“[We] moved to the French Alps and stuck WIFI in a rented chalet to get started,” he explains. “It was a great place to bootstrap a business. We lived and worked together, skiing and riding when we weren’t locked to our laptops. It was pretty cost-effective and we moved back to the U.K. when we’d got the traction we needed to raise funds to scale the platform.”
Operating a typical online marketplace, Much Better Adventures caters for travellers who are looking to book active holidays, while on the B2B side the startup partners with specialist hosts who sell via the platform, charging 8 per cent in commission for every holiday booked.
Operators listed on Much Better Adventures are “hand-picked”, comprising of local, independently owned businesses in the best spots to ski and ride, says Bruce. “They are lifestyle entrepreneurs with great local knowledge and a genuine passion for sharing their favourite spots to ride, climb, surf or ski,” he adds.