Amsterdam-based Origin, an application software that provides personalised trip planning services, announced on Thursday that it has raised over $5M (approx €4.36M) in its Seed round of funding led by Berlin-based venture capital and private equity firm Project A.
The round also saw participation from Cavalry Ventures and notable angels such as David Rosenthal, cohost of Acquired, Brad Klingeberg, CAO of Daily Harvest and previously StitchFix, and John Johnson, co-founder of Buzzfeed.
Mey Cezairli, Investment Manager at Project A, says, “While travel booking has been digitised at the expense of traditional travel agencies years ago, the process of booking complicated trips like a safari has remained burdensome for travelers. At the same time, mobile-first millennials and GenX are becoming the driving force behind the growing premium travel market.”
“We believe that by blending human touch with the latest machine learning technology, Origin has the potential to create a scalable premium travel assistant for highly personalised trips that are making travel much more special and convenient,” Cezairli adds.
“Your personal travel assistant”
Origin claims to be reshaping the travel industry by providing individual, personalised trips. The membership travel company uses the knowledge of human travel experts and then powers their trip curation with machine learning in one app.
The company was founded in 2019 by Eli Bressert and Tamar van de Paal. Bressert is a data science veteran with decades of experience leading teams and working in machine learning & AI at Apple, Convoy, Netflix, Stitch Fix, and more. van de Paal operates at the crossroads of technology, marketing, and media. He has experience leading teams and growing the likes of Nextdoor, Google, Spotzer Media Group, and more.
How was Origin born?
According to Eli Bressert, the founders generally had little time to invest in building ‘great’ trips for themselves, friends, and family. And though there are self-serve tools available in the market such as Booking or Expedia to search for hotels, flights, and things to do, planning and managing a trip took most of their time.
They even tried traditional agencies that provide such services, but the level of personalisation they found was underwhelming. Also, the only form of communication and services the agencies use were the phone, email or PDFs.
“Why can’t we funnel all of this through the most convenient form factor of an app on the phone? With Tamar’s background in operations and marketing and mine in machine learning and AI, and experience with human-in-the-loop machine learning to superpower experts — we knew we could change the travel domain for the better,” says Bressert.
And this is how “Origin was born, out of a real need.”
The company claims the proceeds from this round will help it expand its local knowledge and connections to increase destination coverage from 110 to 140 individual countries. Origin will also accelerate its trip booking process to enhance the travel experience and better-capturing feedback for future trips.
Besides, the funds will also enable the company to evolve the internal functionality of the tools, build more partnerships with new travel providers, hotels, etc, and further accelerate its content development.