Much Better Adventures, an online platform for booking active holidays with independent specialists, has raised £400,000 to expand its ski offering and start road cycling holidays.
The London-based company aims to offer full global coverage for ski and cycling holidays by the end of the year and is looking to expand into trekking, surfing, diving and other activities.
The investment comes from early-stage investor, Seedcamp, alongside travel operators using the platform and angel investors including 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).
London’s Co-investment Fund, backed by mayor Boris Johnson, also participated in the round.
Johnson said: “London’s tech and science sector is flourishing and the city is a hotbed of talented and ambitious people buzzing with exciting ideas who are setting up new companies in their droves.
“I am delighted that the London Co-Investment Fund is helping companies like Much Better Adventures to make their ideas a reality and deliver jobs and growth for the capital.”
Much Better Adventures started out by featuring the best independent skier-run chalets in Europe, generating 50,000 overnight bookings.
The platform allows travellers to easily discover, compare, book and review holidays with local and independent hosts, guides and tour operators.
Co-founders Alex Narracott, Sam Bruce and Guy Bowden started the business out of a rented chalet in the French Alps before returning to London to source financial backing, scale and build a 12-person team.
Bruce said: “Our customers have been asking us to expand into new markets and this investment allows us to launch the first online marketplace for cycling holidays which we’re very excited about.
“It’s a multi-billion pound market with over 25 million overnight trips taken each year in the EU alone, but much like most of the active holiday industry, it’s incredibly fragmented and poorly served by existing online platforms.
“We’re also delighted to have surrounded ourselves with such relevant and experienced investors with strong track records in delivering amazing online consumer platforms.”
Carlos Espinal, partner at Seedcamp, said: “Much Better Adventures are nicely poised to launch into a new market with its cycling holidays.
“There are some very positive trends in the active travel market which has seen a growth of over 65% a year, with 78% of travellers ‘wanting to try new experiences and activities’ and 86% ‘wanting to book directly with locals’.
“We’re delighted to have invested in a team which is making it easier to do exactly that.”
Handpicked holiday providers pay a commission on bookings. It is free for customers who are also guaranteed the best direct price.
Bruce added: “For us, building Much Better Adventures is about creating a platform that empowers lifestyle entrepreneurs to make a good living doing what they love – setting up small, awesome experience companies and sharing the best spots to ride, climb, surf or ski in their local area.
“Since 2000, there’s been a 40% growth in small travel companies starting up, but they’re hard to find and book with.
“If we get it right, it’ll play a part in reshaping travel – funnelling more money into local economies and businesses so that they are the real beneficiaries, and giving customers ‘much better’ holidays than large tour operators ever could.”