Spark books a seat on isango

Isango!, an online travel agency which has become a market leader in under two years, has closed its first institutional round on US$8m.

The round was led by London’s SPARK Ventures which committed half of the total round amount, with Beringea, manager of the ProVen suite of VCTs, added US$2.5m and the remaining US$1.5m came from existing shareholders.

More than just a straight-forward online booking service, it offers what the company calls “travel experiences”, i.e. it is a one-stop shop for holidaymakers, with a particular emphasis on the purpose or motivation of the customer who wants a vacation – it includes details of tours, sightseeing, attractions, activities and other things to do in 60 countries across the world

Isango! was co-founded in 2005 by Ranjan Singh, a former managing director of eBookers, the online cheap flight and hotel booking company. Singh said of the fundraising: “This is an important milestone in the development of the business and to have attracted two highly respected and experienced investors is a clear endorsement of the progress we have made over the last eighteen months. The market for travel experiences, tours and activities is the ‘last frontier’ of online travel which remains unaggregated. isango! is in pole position in this huge and exciting market. We have seen a very strong revenue growth since our launch and this latest round of funding gives us a platform from which to take the business to the next level.”

The US$8m raised will be used to support the company through the next stage of its development and revenue ramp-up, including aggregating activity inventories, rolling-out its innovative booking platform with major distribution partners, and developing additional products and services.

Jay Patel, executive director at SPARK, said: “Travel has been one of the sectors most successfully transformed by the advent of the internet, with online ticket sales and hotel bookings now at around $650 billion annually. This combined with the growing demand from customers for holidays which incorporate experiences and activities, has created a clear market opportunity for isango! We are backing an experienced and ambitious management team who we believe has the capability and drive to build a market leading business and to benefit from the explosive growth in this market.”