Waterspring Ventures, an award-winning early-stage venture capital firm based in Wales, today announces it has chosen Cardiff-based tourhub - an experiential travel aggregation platform which helps travellers easily book their dream adventures - for their next major investment.
Waterspring Ventures is investing £450k into the business, partnering with the Development Bank of Wales which is investing £300k from its Technology Seed Ventures Fund and £250k from its Angel Co-Fund. Local Cardiff-based law firm, Hugh James, also advised on the million pound deal.
One destination to book multi day adventures to any location
Historically, travellers spent considerable amounts of time searching different websites to book a trip using multiple tour operators in order to get the best offers. Now, tourhub makes booking multi-day adventures easy - enabling travellers to compare a range of options and prices in one place, meaning more time is spent enjoying the trip rather than organising it.
Seamus Conlon, CEO, tourhub: “We set up tourhub because we could see the growth of experiential travel and cultural holidays, but there was a need to bring it all in one place for travellers. We offer everything else but the standard, traditional beach package holidays. With close to over 800 worldwide suppliers, we provide you with whatever you dream of - from seeing snow monkeys in the Japanese Alps, hiking around 18 national parks in America, to cycling tours across Vietnam - we have something for every type of adventure seeker, no matter what your age.”
Creating a visual community
Aided by the current boom in experiential travel, tourhub offers holidays that lend itself to inspiring visuals and content, an aspect the founders wanted to leverage.
Conlon continues: “We know the world is consuming more and more social content each day, from TikToks, reels, shorts and stories. How people search and find holidays is changing - now they see one amazing video of someone’s trip and they want to book immediately. So it was important for us to make the most of that. We’ve created a community of content creators and travel gurus who showcase their adventures online and share insider knowledge, inspiring others to book with confidence.”
Turning downtime into an opportunity
The business was established three months before the Covid-19 pandemic began, undeniably a difficult time to set up an experiential travel company - but tourhub worked hard to use it to its advantage.
Conlon says: “In hindsight, having the travelling world come to a halt was an opportunity for us. We had the time to focus entirely on building our technology platform, as opposed to needing to build and run it at the same time, so we could limit the operational challenges when we did launch. Tour operators also weren’t busy so they were far more open to conversations with us and joining our platform, enabling us to onboard leading operators from around the globe at a much greater rate.
“We were pushing at the gates to go live, but we decided to bide our time and delay the start of the business until enough travel restrictions had been lifted across the world - because we wanted that first holiday that was booked to be the adventure trip we promised. And it really lived up to our - and our customers’ - expectations.”
A wealth of experience
Whilst a startup, tourhub’s senior management team and the board - including Seamus Conlon, Laurence Hicks, Rhodri Evans, Will Waggott and Darran Evans - are anything but new to the travel industry. The team have been involved in the creation and expansion of leading travel companies including Wendy Wu tours, cruise.co.uk, and Tigerbay technology. Waggott joined the board as Chairman early this year, and was previously CEO of Travelopia and CFO of TUI Holidays. Evans, a highly successful entrepreneur with experience in the banking, travel and leisure sectors, grew and internationalised Leisure Pass (now Go City) before selling the business.
Sam Huxtable, Founder and Managing Partner, Waterspring Ventures says: “We’re delighted to be investing in tourhub. The team astutely spent the pandemic laying the foundations on the tech and operational side of the business, whilst developing existing and new relationships with big and small tour operators around the world. Numerous members of the team have also led, built and exited businesses in the travel industry previously. This collective experience was a strong attraction for Waterspring Ventures and we are excited to work together going forward.”
Tom Preene, Operations Manager for Angels Invest Wales said: “The combined value of £300,000 from our Wales Technology Seed Fund and £250,000 from our Wales Angel Co-investment Fund demonstrates how our investments can really increase the firepower of syndicated angel investing and SEIS/EIS funds. This latest funding round is testament to our commitment to working with exciting firms like Waterspring Ventures and business angels like Darran Evans as our co-investors, giving tourhub the platform to scale-up globally from their base here in Cardiff.”
Looking to the future, the business is currently focusing on onboarding more touring operators, river cruise lines and expedition cruises. It is continuing to provide its technology and content to other travel agents and publishers - supporting The Times, HolidayPirates, Barrhead Travel and 200 smaller travel agents. Currently 60% of the business is sourced from the US and Canada, with plans also in place to launch in Australia by the end of 2023.