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Nick Hill

Tech travel startup Seatfrog secures £4.5m in Series A funding round

Seatfrog, the technology company specialising in rail and airline upgrades through live bidding for seats on mobile right up to departure, has announced a £4.5m Series A funding round, led by venture capital firm Octopus Ventures.

Octopus Ventures is the London and New York-based venture capital firm behind businesses such as Secret Escapes and Zoopla Property Group.

Existing investors, including HOWZAT Partners (the investment team behind Trivago), also participated in the latest funding round.

Seatfrog unlocks revenue opportunities for trains and airlines by auctioning premium seats right up until the time of departure. According to Seatfrog’s research, more than 37 million premium seats fly empty annually across the top 30 airlines and 480 million across the top seven European rail providers.

In September 2017, Seatfrog launched a world-first with Virgin Trains: enabling customers to upgrade right up to 15 minutes before departure from their smartphones.

The technology startup, which now has offices in London and Sydney, is expanding with over 130% growth month on month. It has seen its clients increase revenues by more than 100% and user conversion rates have risen to 56%.

Seatfrog is now using the £4.5m cash injection to bolster its team with senior hires across both its London and Sydney offices, as well as significantly expand product capability.

Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog, said: “Every year billions of pounds in unrealised ancillary revenue passes by because of manual, fragmented legacy processes. We set out a year ago to prove there is a much better way and we’ve done that.

“Seatfrog’s technology brings a mobile solution to market designed for the passengers of today. We enable the travel industry to move much faster and evolve their ancillary strategies through intelligent use of real time data, giving their passengers’ an intuitive, mobile-first experience that fits with their busy lives.”

Suzanne Donnelly, head of commercial LNER, commented: “Seatfrog has been a huge success for Virgin and now for LNER. Supremely intuitive for our passengers and delivering excellent commercial performance, our team loves working with such a fast moving, forward thinking partner”.

Luke Hakes, partner at Octopus Ventures, added: “We are thrilled to be leading the funding round and to be joining the board of a Seatfrog, which we feel has the opportunity to make a fundamental difference to the way consumers approach the challenges of travelling.

“Having seen the impact of dynamic revenue management systems within hotels and airlines, we feel there is a very interesting opportunity in applying this approach to the multi-billion dollar train travel industry.

“Seatfrog is exactly the kind of forward-thinking technology with a powerful brand, that we want to invest in. Octopus Ventures looks forward to being part of Seatfrog’s journey and playing a role in supporting the team and taking the business to new heights across many geographies.”​

David Soskin, co-founder and partner at HOWZAT, concluded: “Without question, Seatfrog is the platform that the industry has been waiting for to improve the upgrade experience. Ancillary revenue strategies across the travel industry are fragmented and there is a lot of untapped potential, particularly in relation to the same-day upgrade process.

“Seatfrog has been experiencing the sort of demand we expected which presents a significant opportunity.”

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