SnapTravel raises $21 million with an assist from NBA star Steph Curry
Founded just two years ago, the platform has engaged with over 2 million customers in over 150 countries and has led to more than $50 million in hotel sales this year, 450% more than last year.
Steph Curry disrupted basketball by making seemingly impossible three-point shots look routine. Now the Golden State Warriors guard is looking for disrupters in business as he scouts out new investments off the court.
His latest bet is Canadian travel startup SnapTravel, which helps users make hotel bookings through messenger platforms like WhatsApp. Curry and Telstra Ventures, the investment arm of Australian telecom giant Telstra Corp., were among a group that invested $13.2 million in the company, which closed its series A funding round at $21.2 million, according to a statement Tuesday.
Curry, the highest-paid player in the National Basketball Association, has been building up his investments over the past few years by taking stakes in companies like Pinterest and Palm, while launching Slyce, a platform that helped athletes enhance their social media communications. Now, he's trying to ramp up his credibility early on as a smart investor as his business network and deal pitches grow.
Curry sees a parallel between his play on the court and his investments style.
Curry's company SC30, Inc., which manages his investments, brand partnership, media and philanthropic interests, was introduced to SnapTravel through Telstra Ventures. Having Curry on board will help with the company's growth and brand, Hussein Fazal, chief executive officer and co-founder of SnapTravel, said by phone.
SnapTravel's AI-based algorithms help curate personalized hotel deals accessible immediately through platforms including Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, iMessage and Alexa. Founded just two years ago, the platform has engaged with over 2 million customers in over 150 countries and has led to more than $50 million in hotel sales this year, 450% more than last year.
The consumer trend towards messaging is here. There are 149.8MM mobile messaging app users in the US, 2 billion globally, and these numbers continue to grow. Consumers spend a disproportionate amount of time on messaging apps vs non-messaging apps.
The appeal of mobile messaging apps continues to spread. eMarketer projects that 1.82 billion people across the globe will use apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat in 2017, an increase of 15.5% year over year.
In addition to chatting with family and friends, consumers expect that they can chat with businesses within their favorite messaging app. Businesses are starting to catch up with over 300,000 active bots on the Facebook Messenger Platform, and 8 Billion messages exchanged between people and businesses every month.
Being situated in the back yard of Silicon Valley's biggest tech giants and venture capital firms helps find early bets, Curry said. And it's helped make him a better investor.
For now, SC30 is looking at making about 8 to 12 investments each year and hoping to partner alongside reputable, institutional investors that can assist in doing a deep dive into prospective companies or industries, like Telstra did with SnapTravel, said Bryant Barr, president of SC30, Inc.
“My biggest goal for Stephen is to build credibility and a good reputation for him as an investor,” Barr said in an interview. “It's less about trying to find that next 100x return right now, and how do we just make sound, thoughtful investments.”
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