COVID-19 made a mess of the travel and tourism industry as people were confined to their homes. However, things have eased in recent times and people are once again venturing beyond their homes and cities as domestic travel has made a comeback in recent months.
Travel experiences startup Headout is one of the few players in the segment that did not incur losses over the past year and instead performed pretty well. Like the numerous Indian startups last year, it raised funds from investors – it raised $12 million in September in its Series B funding round. Now, it has brought in an additional $30 million to its Series B funding, thus bringing the total size of the round to $42 million.
This was led by prior investor Glade Brook Capital and included participation from existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, FJ Labs, and 500 Startups, as well as Sriharsha Majety (CEO, Swiggy), Ankit Sobti (CTO, Postman), and Ranjeet Pratap Singh (CEO, Pratilipi), and others.
The proceeds, it seems will be deployed towards growing its business and expanding its service to 500 cities in the next 24 months, as well as growing its team and hiring across all roles. Funds will also be used to accelerate its journey to clocking $1 billion in annual sales and launching new verticals for domestic short-haul travel.
If that is not all, Headout also plans to pursue acquisitions in travel, entertainment, and AR, as well as build the next generation of technology products. These will augment what it calls “the human experience and its interaction with the real universe around it.” Considering that the metaverse is currently the buzzword of the tech world and it relies heavily on AR and VR technology, Headout’s technology products might be needed.
Headout offers travel experience bookings to travelers in a very simple and efficient manner. In its words, all it takes is three taps and 60 seconds as the startup combines the convenience of mobile, curated tours, best prices, and paperless ticketing to deliver a delightful experience to its users. It leverages technology to standardize, upgrade and curate experiences provided by its partners across the world.
Many travel and entertainment firms were hit hard by the pandemic. Such was not the case with Headout, which rode the waves of the pandemic by focussing on domestic travel more than ever. This has yielded rich rewards as well – it became EBITDA profitable in July and clocked a growth of 800% since January 2021. Before the pandemic, domestic travel was an area that saw little attention from Headout. The pandemic changed that, and now, domestic travel accounts for nearly 80% of its business.
To date, 10 million people from over 190 countries have used Headout across 30 cities. These are impressive numbers when you consider that other travel firms were struggling to get by since the pandemic started to wreak havoc across the world.
“The world is an incredibly boring place without travel and real-life experiences. Covid has only made us more relentless on our mission to inspire people to experience the world out there and the current wave only strengthens our resolve,” said Varun Khona, co-founder & CEO of Headout.