It’s unclear if business travel will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels. But that isn’t stopping investors from betting on a startup with a new take on business travel software.
New York City-based Spotnana announced a $34 million Series A round on Wednesday. Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group co-led the round with ICONIQ.
Steve Singh, co-founder of travel expense giant Concur and a managing director at Madrona, is chairman of the company. Former Expedia CFO Greg Stanger, now an investor at ICONIQ, is also on the board.
Sarosh Waghmar and Shikhar Agarwal founded Spotnana last year. The company offers a platform for booking and planning business travel. It gives a real-time global view of travel spending, safety, and trends inside an organization. The startup has 50 corporate enterprise customers.
Travel industry partners such as suppliers or service providers can also use Spotnana to serve their own corporate customers or integrate the software into their offerings.
Spotnana differentiates from existing software because it is API-friendly and is an integrated tech stack, said Waghmar, a travel industry vet who previously founded corporate travel company WTMC. The platform automates repetitive tasks and can connect to other third-party technology providers for HR, expense management, sustainability management, and more. The company also uses consumption-based pricing (per-trip fee) versus monthly subscriptions.
“Expectations have shifted during the pandemic, as onerous contracts forced corporations to keep paying their travel management company technology and service fees while travel was at a standstill,” Waghmar said. “We believe consumption-based pricing is more ethical and puts the customer first.”
The pandemic crushed travel companies across the industry as COVID-19 mandates kept people at home and out of airplanes and hotels.
TSA checkpoint travel numbers steadily rose throughout this year but dipped this summer with the Delta variant.
The future of business travel is unclear. Many executives have cited cost savings from video meetings and a push to reduce carbon emissions.
Some remain bullish. Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta, speaking at a Skift conference this week, said business travel demand would surpass 2019 levels within three years.
Waghmar said that while business travel volume has decreased since the pandemic, “we are seeing signs of a return to travel in increased transaction volume by our corporate clients.”
“Signing and onboarding 50 customers during the pandemic is a sign that Spotnana has achieved product-market fit and provides a powerful alternative to existing solutions,” he noted.
Decibel and Mubadala Capital also participated in the Series A round. Spotana has raised $41 million to date. It has more than 120 employees globally with offices in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, London, and Bangalore.