Travel technology platform Spotnana launches with $41M

Spotnana emerged from stealth Thursday with $41 million in its pocket and an open global platform targeting the $1.4 trillion business travel industry.

The Bay Area company’s investment includes a $34 million Series A, co-led by ICONIQ and Madrona Venture Group with participation from Decibel and Mubadala Capital, and a previous undisclosed $7 million seed round from 2020, also from ICONIQ and Madrona and including 8VC and Global Founders Capital.

Founded by CEO Sarosh Waghmar and CTO Shikhar Agarwal in 2019, Spotnana is designing a software-as-a-service platform for travel buyers and suppliers aimed at automating associated back- and mid-office tasks, providing travel inventory from dozens of global sources and integrations with third-party workplace technology providers for ease of travel management.

Waghmar, who has a background in the travel industry founding and leading digital travel company WTMC, told TechCrunch that scaling in the industry was difficult due to it being “highly broken and highly fragmented.”

He learned that the only way to scale in the travel industry would be to build a technology company first, so with Agarwal, they got started building Spotnana, not knowing that the global pandemic was around the corner.

“Travel is a $1.4 trillion industry and just corporate travel is growing 5% to 6% each year, but accounted for $700 billion of that last year in spite of the pandemic,” Waghmar said. “By 2024, we see this going back to $1.4 trillion, especially as events will get back where they need to be.”

The platform is now open to the public after piloting with more than 50 corporate travel customers that manage travel across global offices, now from a single online dashboard. The company has also grown to over 120 employees over the past year.

Steve Singh, former founder and CEO of corporate expense and travel software company Concur, is an investor at Madrona Venture Group and leads Spotnana’s board as chairman. Joining him on the board as part of the investment is ICONIQ investor and former CFO of Expedia Greg Stanger.

Singh referred to the company as “AWS for the travel industry.”

“Customers are using Spotnana in a few ways: They are using the finished product or taking the API and building their own products,” he said. “This will be like walking into a kiosk in the airport and being able to access the same record used in booking travel online or working with a travel agent.”

At his previous company, Waghmar said he had scaled it to over $70 million in travel spend per year as a bootstrapped company. However, with Spotnana, he believes technology will drive change in the industry and that it will take working with investors that understand the space to push it forward.

The new funding will be deployed into additional hires, particularly on the engineering team, building out its travel operations infrastructure and continued development of its open architecture.

“We believe this is the highest-ever raised for a business travel startup,” Waghmar added. “We have built a profitable business before, and we can do it again as we disrupt this industry.”