Travel startup Much Better Adventures raises £400K and launches road cycling marketplace

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London-based travel tech startup Much Better Adventures has raised £400,000 to expand its ski offering and launch into its second vertical – a specialist marketplace for road cycling holidays. Up to now the young company, which was founded in 2009, was known as a platform for booking active holidays with independent specialists.

Much Better Adventures started out by featuring the best independent skier-run chalets in Europe, generating 50,000 overnight bookings. The platform allows experience-hungry and time-poor adventure travellers to easily discover, compare, book and review holidays with the best local and independent hosts, guides and tour operators. Handpicked holiday providers pay a commission on bookings. It’s free for customers who are also guaranteed the best direct price. Co-Founders, Alex Narracott, Sam Bruce and Guy Bowden, started the business out of a rented chalet in the French Alps before returning to London to source financial backing, scale and build its now 12-person team. The aim of the team is to offer full global coverage for ski and cycling holidays with their sights firmly set on launching trekking, surfing, diving and other activities by the end of the year 2016.

The investment comes from early-stage investor Seedcamp. Also travel operators and angel investors – Simon Lambert (ex-Lastminute.com, Treatwell – formerly Wahanda), Fred Ahlberg (ex-Ebay and King), Brett Akker (founder of Lovespace, Streetcar, ex-Zipcar) and James Kent (ex-Google) – has entered in this round.

The London’s Co-investment Fund, backed by the Mayor, also participated in the round: “London’s tech and science sector is flourishing and the city is a hotbed of talented and ambitious people buzzing with exciting ideas who are setting up new companies in their droves. I am delighted that the London Co-Investment Fund is helping companies like Much Better Adventures to make their ideas a reality and deliver jobs and growth for the capital,” says Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

“Our customers have been asking us to expand into new markets and this investment allows us to launch the first online marketplace for cycling holidays which we’re very excited about. It’s a multi-billion pound market with over 25 million overnight trips taken each year in the EU alone, but much like most of the active holiday industry, it’s incredibly fragmented and poorly served by existing online platforms. We’re also delighted to have surrounded ourselves with such relevant and experienced investors with strong track records in delivering amazing online consumer platforms. If we get it right, it’ll play a part in reshaping travel – funnelling more money into local economies and businesses so that they are the real beneficiaries, and giving customers ‘much better’ holidays than large tour operators ever could,” says one of the founders Sam Bruce.

Investors are also looking forward to the new project: “Much Better Adventures are nicely poised to launch into a new market with its cycling holidays. There are some very positive trends in the active travel market which has seen a growth of over 65% a year, with 78% of travellers ‘wanting to try new experiences and activities’ and 86 per cent ‘wanting to book directly with locals’. We’re delighted to have invested in a team which is making it easier to do exactly that,” says Carlos Espinal, Partner at Seedcamp.