Peek raises $ 80 million as its travel experiences software and marketplace business surpasses $ 2 billion in bookings – TechCrunch

Travel and tourism are slowly starting to move again in the wake of the Covid-19 crash around the world and sending us to shelter in place. Today, an experiential-driven business – museum tours, skydiving, local cooking classes and more – is announcing a round of growth fundings after seeing its own business rebound. A look, which provides both a marketplace for consumers to discover and book experiences, a platform for businesses to book team building activities and other internal events, and technology for tourism businesses to digitize, running and running their own online experience businesses – “like a Shopify for experiences,” said Ruzwana Bashir, CEO and co-founder – has raised $ 80 million. He plans to use the funds to continue to develop his product, hire more talent and take Peek to more places, after spending some $ 2 billion in bookings with some 35 million customers, mostly in America. North.

The ride, a Series C, is notable in part because of who’s behind it: The funding is led by WestCap – the investment firm founded by another major player in the travel industry, the former CFO of Airbnb, Laurence Tosi. New investor Goldman Sachs Asset Management is also in the round, alongside 3L, Cathay Innovation, I2BF Global Ventures, Manta Ray and Apeiron. Other high profile former donors include Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt and Kayak founder Paul English.

Peek, based in San Francisco, is not disclosing his valuation, but Bashir told us the figure “has grown significantly because we have grown the business a lot and achieved profitability this year.” Peek has raised over $ 100 million in the past 10 years.

“Now that we are starting to invest again, we are going into investment mode,” she added. It’s also worth pointing out that this round was initially offered to me as a $ 60 million investment and then increased by $ 20 million just a few days ago, which is also a testament to the confidence that investors currently have it in the travel and tourism space.

It’s a big change from a year ago, when travel-related companies banded together and tried to figure out how to continue to weather what turned out to be a very long storm. Many of them had entered the summer of 2020 in hopes that the pandemic (which really started earlier in the year) would have abated and led to a wave of exuberant movement during the warmer months, to find a short-lived rebound. One of the most capitalized travel experience startups – Berlin’s GetYourGuide, valued at over $ 1 billion just 6 months before the onset of Covid-19 began – has found itself lifting first a large convertible note, then a large credit facility, as it strengthened its business as the pandemic progressed.

Peek wasn’t immune either. When Covid-19 hit, “It was pretty terrifying for us. We were growing up fine and then all of a sudden the bookings collapsed, ”said Bashir, who co-founded the company with Oskar Bruening (pictured below). “We then did all the tough stuff. This included the dismissal of 30% of its staff by Peek to help it get through the crisis.

Peek also went on the offensive, thinking about how he could work differently with his clients on both sides of the business. With end users, it doubled virtual experiences (eg, online cooking classes); and rethink and expand who could be “customers” by creating booking experiences for corporate and internal events.

But the real key is how he rethought he was working with experienced providers, where he helped them get their own emergency loans, and he equipped them with the tools to work in the “new.” normality ”by helping them to focus more on the local. activities for locals rather than tourists; and provide them with more software and functionality to run these businesses.

“We are the operating system for these traders,” she said.

It turned out to be the right decision: it meant that as these companies resumed operations, so did Peek, which found itself profitable in the midst of the pandemic. Software currently makes up “the majority” of Peek’s business, she said, although that may well change over the next year or so as consumer travel begins to rebound and this brings more activity to the own. Peek market.

“There are a lot of opportunities, $ 1 trillion in gross merchandise value, and still a lot of businesses haven’t made the jump online,” he said. Most of the experiences clients used to use with pen, paper, phone calls, and management through spreadsheets, she said, “but [now] you cannot connect with clients now before connecting.

Activities covered by Peek range from wine tours and water sports to skydiving and art lessons, while Peek Pro, as the B2B2C product is called, offers technology to enable online booking, point-of-sale services. sales and “hundreds” of automations covering things like inventory management, dynamic pricing, waivers, and marketing analysis. Peek says he has “thousands” of customers, including businesses like the Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, Artechouse (the experiential art places) and Pennekamp State Park.

Some of these companies are undoubtedly targeting young adults and therefore were already quite digital savvy, but more generally, Bashir believes that Peek’s success in building B2B2C technologies for experienced companies is part of the bigger picture. trend in the business software world. specifically for offline businesses.

“People underestimate what happened offline. There has been a leap forward in e-commerce, ”she said of the oft-told story of the impact of Covid-19 on businesses already online. But offline businesses suddenly had to take what she calls “a ten-year leap” to catch up. Peek is part of the battalion of tech companies that have rushed to fill this void for a variety of other use cases, such as building software for restaurants, construction logistics, or curbside pickup for retailers. bricks and mortar.

“We were the first to adopt and invest in travel technology companies, and have been following for years,” WestCap’s Tosi said in a statement. “Ruzwana Bashir is a dynamic leader and’s unique approach has enabled her to serve millions of people. It is a transformative solution that will allow a wider audience of travelers and locals to have meaningful experiences and activity operators to develop their activities. “

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