Investors remain hopeful about tourism, despite ongoing lockdown restrictions, with travel app FreeGuides raising $360,000 in a seed round.
The raise was backed by Scalare Partners, Little Fish VC and inQ Innovation Global CEO Malik Irfan for a $2.5 million valuation.
The cash will be used to improve the app experience ahead of a global launch slated for 2022.
The FreeGuides travel app allows people to monetise their local knowledge by creating self-guided travel itineraries,. Visitors to Australia and New Zealand can then use them to explore the area, from city streetscapes to national parks.
The free app already has more than 160 self-guided tours covering subjects such as nature, food & drink, photography, culture, and architecture.
Founder Daniel Wasilewsky was inspired by his own pre-COVID travels – he loves free walking tours – and a desire to tap into local knowledge to discover hidden gems
Wasilewsky is now looking to introduce sponsored experiences to the platform. FreeGuides has closed four partnerships with hostels and activity suppliers and is looking to substantially grow the number of active partnerships in the next year. A web app is also on the cards.
“Amidst the uncertainty of the past year, we have been overwhelmed by the support of our investors who truly believe in the future of travel,” he said.
“The app now has over 850 active users and 80-plus guides creating dynamic local experiences. We can’t wait to expand on our success in Australia and New Zealand by taking the app global in 2022.”
Scalare Partners co-founder Giles Bourne said he’s been “extremely impressed” with the development of FreeGuides since their initial investment in the venture, which launched in Sydney in January this year, before expanding in New Zealand three months ago.
“Scalare has supported FreeGuides in its funding round as we strongly believe in the founder’s vision and passion to build FreeGuides into a global business. With the inevitable resumption of tourism, the market opportunity is significant,” he said.
Little Fish general partner Gene Baker called it a “no brainer” with the current travel restrictions simply being “potential energy being stored in travel demand” as a part of a multi-decade trend
“We felt very strongly that Daniel and his team are building an essential tool for a generation of post-COVID travellers,” he said.
Malik Irfan said the idea is a globally scalable opportunity.
“It’s great proposition for millennials with a passion for amazing content curation of experiences with diverse revenue streams, and a game-changer for future travel experiences,” he said.
“Has good traction with great market validation for growth into Asian markets including the Indian subcontinent, East-Asia and the Middle-East for accelerated adoption in a post-Covid landscape.”