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SoftBank leads financing round for Berlin travel startup GetYourGuide

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Berlin’s travel startup GetYourGuide said on Thursday it had raised nearly $500 million from investors led by SoftBank, the Vision of the Fund for the expansion of its online offerings of tours and activities has won a following among millennials.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World in 2017 conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

GetYourGuide, which has sold 25 million tickets since its establishment ten years ago, wants to invest proceeds from the so-called Series E funding round in the “Originals” branded product with the launch this past August.

The company’s booking platform runs on a similar model to the one for the first time by driving from his company, Uber, connecting tourists with travel “experiences” in exchange for a commission.

CEO and co-founder Johannes Reck, estimates the market to a value of $150 billion, and with no player having a market share of more than 2%, and four of the five bookings made offline, he sees a huge room for growth.

“We aim to capture the lion’s share of the market than help it grow and mature further, by posting user reviews in the middle of the journey, planning the trip,” Reck told Reuters in an e-mail interview.

The investment by the Vision of the Fund, the world’s largest venture fund, is only the second in Germany – and on the mainland of Europe – after the backup-used-car trading platform Auto1, also located in Berlin, in January 2018.

SoftBank is joined in the $484 million funding round by Temasek, Lakestar and Heartcore Capital. Previously lenders, including Swisscanto Investment also contributed, GetYourGuide said.

INSTAGRAM TOURS

With its original product, GetYourGuide goes beyond simple curation for its seal of approval on guided tours to the top of the local partners.

A hit is the Bali Instagram Tour, designed for travelers to take and post beautiful photos of their trip on the photo-sharing social network owned by Facebook.

“We have a wide range of excursions in Bali at the time, but we repeatedly heard of the millennial customers that they wanted a tour dedicated to the photography of the most beautiful parts of the island,” he said.

“So, along with a top supplier, we have this product, which is now one of our best selling experiences in Asia,” he said. GetYourGuide now offers more than 50 Instagram tours worldwide.

Reck refused to disclose GetYourGuide financials, but said his focus was on building market share rather than achieving profitability in the short term. An ipo is a longer term possible.

GetYourGuide said the funding round is valued in the “unicorn” category, making it worth more than $1 billion, but refused to be specific.

Asked how often travelers use GetYourGuide, Reck said that its own research showed that they are usually booked between three and five user reviews for any journey – given that in the course of the past two years.

GetYourGuide also said that it had hired Arneet Ranadive, formerly of Instagram and Twitter, as its first chief product officer. Nils Chrestin joins as chief financial officer of Global Fashion Group, an online fashion and lifestyle company.

Ted Fike, partner at SoftBank investment advisers, will sit on the GetYourGuide board of directors.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter

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