Our Investment in TrovaTrip

After a year and a half of missing family, friends, and the joys of seeing the world, people are traveling again in a big way. This chart says it all with weekly TSA screenings climbing from 5 million per week at the end of January to over 14 million last week.

TrovaTrip announced today a $5 million raise led by PSL Ventures, with participation from Oregon Venture Fund, Elevate Capital, Barney Harford (former CEO of Orbitz and former COO of Uber), and Eric Breon (Founder of Vacasa).

We are excited to share a couple thoughts on our investment here, focusing specifically on the company’s unique product and business model, and the talented, creative, and unbelievably tenacious team.

Brandon Denham, Lauren Schneider, and Nick Poggi, the founders of TrovaTrip

TrovaTrip’s Product and Business Model

A TrovaTrip in Rome.

TrovaTrip has created a powerful and clever new way for people to travel together with others who have similar interests. The company’s platform enables creators with large and obsessed followings (think yoga instructors, travel photographers, or even disc golf pros) to launch custom trips for their audience. TrovaTrip has built a library of over 100 different itineraries in 40 countries that these creators customize. The company partners with local trip operators in every one of these countries so that the creator doesn’t have to be a master of logistics;  they just take care of what they’re already great at, reaching their audience and connecting with people around their craft.

For the longest time, tech startups in the consumer travel sector have struggled with the classic problem of traveler acquisition. Many become mired in an uphill battle to acquire customers through traditional digital channels like search advertising. This means competition with incumbent travel corporations who can spend billions of dollars. TrovaTrip’s model cleverly side steps these costs, and instead relies on creators to market trips directly to the audience they’ve spent years building. This ends up being great for the traveler, since it guarantees that the trip will be full of people who are passionate about the same thing they are! Of course, it is also a big win for the creators who now have a new tool for creating deep connections with their community and a new revenue stream - a huge win for many during the global pandemic.

A TrovaTrip in Bali.

The TrovaTrip Team

Nick, Lauren, and Brandon have been absolutely tenacious over the last year. As you can imagine, the start of the pandemic was harrowing for the company when travel ground to a halt. As the founders looked for a sustainable path forward, they took the time to connect with their customers, listen, and identify ways to support them. They used those learnings to refine the product and prepare for the eventual return to travel. They enabled creators to pre-sell trips for 2021 and 2022, which not only saw a tremendous amount of demand from creators, but also created an explosion of bookings from their audiences. This momentum has continued, and they are now booking millions of dollars each month! TrovaTrip enabled those creators to keep the lights on while many other revenue streams had dried up amidst the pandemic-induced recession.

Despite the headwinds, TrovaTrip nearly tripled their bookings in 2020. They now have over 350 trips planned for the remainder of 2021 and 2022. This sort of creativity, doggedness, and passion for their business is inspiring to us at PSL.

A TrovaTrip in Costa Rica.

There is still uncertainty about the timing and sequencing of the end of travel restrictions. But TrovaTrip has proven that it can build a great business on our shared desire to connect and explore both before and after those restrictions. As our world safely reopens, TrovaTrip’s trajectory will only accelerate.

The team has invented a whole new category of creator-led group travel that couldn’t be better timed with both the explosion of the creator economy and satisfying all the pent-up demand to see the world. We feel unbelievably fortunate to partner with Nick, Lauren, Brandon, and the entire TrovaTrip team.