Sydney-based tour and activities booking startup Booking Boss has closed a $2 million Series A financing round, ahead of an expansion into Europe.
The round was led by Sydney investors Michael Dempsey and Daniel Dempsey, founders of e-commerce startup Ezidebit, which was acquired for $305 million by Atlanta-based Global Payments last year.
Founded in 2013, Booking Boss provides cloud-based subscription software that helps tours and activities companies take and organise bookings. The startup’s revenue has grown over 45% year-on-year over the past 18 months, which founder Renee Walsh says was key to attracting investment.
“It’s that growth we’ve experienced in particular that they saw as appealing,” she says.
“The travel activity sector still has a huge opportunity. The market is not saturated from a software perspective”
That’s also providing the startup with its biggest challenge – educating customers. Walsh says given there’s little competition in the space in Australia, many tour and activity providers use tools like Google Docs and Excel Spread sheets, and aren’t aware of their options. To date, Booking Boss has relied heavily on word-of-mouth and a big part of the $2 million will be spent on marketing.
“A lot of these businesses know they need assistance, but up until now they haven’t known where to look and what’s needed,” she says.
“We’ve transitioned some major businesses across from very manual-based processes, which are fraught with issues; mistakes can be made, things can be deleted.”
The startup has grown from a team of five to eight over the past few months and will use the funding to further increase the team to between 12 and 16 employees.
“The actual growth that we’re forecasting will be underpinned by an extremely solid marketing strategy which we’ll be launching this week. We’ll also spend more money on sales and product development, looking at new features and improving our existing and core functionality,” Walsh says.
The startup plans on seeing a significant bump in revenue growth when it launches in Europe. It’s already signed up ParisTrip, a tour operator in Paris, which will begin using Booking Boss next month.
“The popularity of subscription-based cloud-based software for delivery of solutions for business applications has not been lost on our industry. Low setup costs, low monthly fees and immediate access to updates are powerful incentives for European operators to look beyond their local market for the best solution,” she says.