Travel search engine Rome2rio is one of the final batch of companies to receive a grant from the now defunct Commercialisation Australia.
Rome2rio’s search engine offers air, train, ferry, mass transit and driving options door-to-door from any location.
The startup received a grant for $385,000 from Commercialisation Australia at the beginning of 2013, and has now received an additional $788,000.
The application was examined and approved by the Commercialisation Australia board in February and Rome2Rio was notified of its successful application late last month.
A spokesperson for the Department of Industry says it is not yet able to provide details of the last round of Commercialisation Australian grant recipients because it is still finalising offers and contracts.
Rome2rio CEO Rod Cuthbert says the funds from this latest grant will go towards technology development and hiring more engineers. He says its eight person team will grow to 10.
“It will go towards continued development of our partnership platform, both API and white label programs available for partners to integrate into their own sites and inevitably most of that work also impacts the consumer cycle we operate as well,” he says.
Cuthbert praised the Commercialisation Australia program, saying while it was quite a bureaucratic program, “if you took the time to understand it, it was a valuable process”.
“Our case manager was experienced and added value to the process,” he says.
“We’re sad to see it go, but we’re open to see what they replace it with.”
Cuthbert says Rome2rio’s website had 2.7 million visitors in June and has been growing by 30% each month for the past six months.
He attributes that growth to demand for Rome2rio’s product.
“We’re the first people that have done a global transportation data base,” he says.
“People have always been out there asking questions like ‘How can you get from A to B?’ but there hasn’t been a site that’s stood up to answering those questions, but we can.
“We know how to get from A to B, anywhere in the world.”
The latest round of funding, gives Rome2rio plenty of breathing room funding wise.
“We’ve got probably a couple of years of runway at our current run-rate given we have revenues and we anticipate our revenues will grow on a monthly basis,” Cuthbert says.
“The only thing that would drive us to do more funding is if we wanted to dramatically increase the amount of development we want to do.”
That said, Cuthbert points out the online travel industry is a very inquisitive space, where anything can happen.
“There’s a couple of deals every week in online travel,” he says.
“Small companies that do interesting things get snapped up quickly.
“As we pass through 5 million unique visitors a month on the way to 10 million, the industry notices that type of thing and opportunities surface.”
He says rather than focus on what those opportunities might bring, the team is concentrating on continuing to grow the site’s traffic.
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