iNovia and Peter Kern team up again in SnapTravel’s $8M Series A

Wise Travel Inc., dba SnapTravel, has raised US $8M in Series A led by Montreal based iNovial Capital with participation of seed investors, Lightbank of Chicago, Bee Partners of San Francisco, California, Hedgewood of Toronto, and a handful of strategic investors, most notably, Peter Kern, who has been on the board of Expedia since 2005.

San Fransisco based SnapTravel raised US $1.1 million in seed funding in July 2016.

With the closing of the financing, SnapTravel is recruiting for developer in Toronto.

Rationale of selecting iNovia as lead investor – “When looking for a lead investor for this round, we wanted a partner who truly believed in our vision of conversational commerce. We were also looking for an investor who wasn’t scared of travel and understood the massive evolution taking place. iNovia has strong theses in both these sectors with multiple investments including smooch, Workfusion, RouteHappy, Busbud and another undisclosed conversational commerce vertical stack. While most VC’s back away from travel given the size of the incumbents, iNovia was the sole investor in Luxury Retreats, which recently had a large 9-figure exit to Airbnb.” – SnapTravel CEO Hussein Fazal.

Peter Kern and iNovia were principal shareholders of Luxury Retreats, leading a US $11 million round in 2015.

“We are still in the early days of conversational commerce,” said Fazal. “But the trend is growing. Users want to chat with businesses, conduct commerce, and get things done within messaging apps – where they already spend most of their time.”

In order to surface the best hotel recommendations for a user – SnapTravel uses a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML). The funding will be used to double down on technology and to fuel growth.

“At SnapTravel, we are building world-class NLP and machine learning models to truly understand our customer’s intent and to provide them with the best recommendations,” said SnapTravel CTO Henry Shi. “Users can express complex preferences and constraints over a simple text or voice message and our bot is able to surface the best hotels based on those preferences.”

SnapTravel was co-founded by Fazal and Shi. Fazal previously built AdParlor which was acquired by AdKnowledge. Shi previously built uMentioned and was an engineer at Google that helped launch YouTube Music Insights.

photo credit: SnapTravle