Ten months ago London startup Duffel hinted that it would be “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience ‘end to end,’ ” and announced a healthy $4.7 million funding round, but not much else.
Today it goes further, announcing a $21.5 million in Series A funding from U.S. VC giant Benchmark, which also backed Snap, Twitter and Uber. Benchmark is joined by Blossom Capital and Index Ventures, which participated in Duffel’s $4.7 million seed round last year.
With this news, we at least get a little more detail. It will be a B2B offering, allowing individual travel agents at large online travel management companies and tour operators to offer a “seamless travel experience” to their end customers, making the booking experience simpler, faster and cheaper.
Is this a new Sabre? Steve Domin, co-founder and CEO of Duffel, hints that it might be along those lines. “The travel industry is underpinned by archaic software and processes that are fundamentally prohibitive for the modern-day traveler. We are reinventing the underwiring between online agents and the providers — airlines, hotels, transport operators — in much the same way that the payments world is changing for merchants because of tools like Adyen and Stripe.”
In other words, Duffel appears to be building a new software stack for travel, in the same way that challenger banks started from scratch to make themselves more agile than the laggard, incumbent banks.
Duffel was one of the Y Combinator S18 cohort and has put together a team drawn from their alumni companies, including GoCardless, GitLab and Turo. It plans to launch this autumn.
Chetan Puttagunta, general partner at Benchmark, said: “We have been watching Duffel from a distance and we are incredibly excited by the possibility it has to create something valuable for customers and travel providers alike. Duffel is focused on providing a better booking experience by building a platform that is easy to use with deep functionality.”
Ophelia Brown, founder of Blossom Capital, said: “Duffel has been clear on its vision to improve the travel experience for everyone from day one. This is a great example of the way that European founders are becoming more ambitious than ever before.”
The market is waiting with bated breath to find out if Duffel’s stellar fundraising capabilities can eventually match the claims made for the product.