Ramping up for take-off: Seatfrog secures AU$1.2M in seed funding round led by HOWZAT Partners Former Qantas International CEO, Simon Hickey, appointed advisor to new travel tech startup
San Francisco, 31 May 2016 — Seatfrog, a technology company transforming the future of airline upgrades through live bidding on mobile right up to the gate, today announced a AU$1.2 million seed funding round, led by respected London-based venture capital firm, HOWZAT Partners. HOWZAT Partners is the investment team behind hotel metasearch business Trivago, which sold to Expedia Inc in 2013 in a deal worth US$1billion.
Seatfrog unlocks revenue opportunities for airlines by auctioning premium seats — guaranteed to fly empty — right up until the time of departure, unlike any other upgrade technology in the market.
A world first, Seatfrog is the only mobile platform enabling airlines to extend upgrades this close to take-off, ensuring a seamless customer experience for the passengers of today and allowing anyone to secure an upgrade in just a few taps. Seatfrog delivers superior user experience with in-app payments and new boarding passes issued direct to the passenger’s mobile for scanning at the departure gate, in one simple transaction.
The Australian startup, which launches globally this year, has already attracted the likes of former Qantas International CEO and aviation industry veteran, Simon Hickey, as an advisor. The AU$1.2 million cash injection will bolster Seatfrog’s already impressive team, bringing together the best minds in data science and development to support the company’s accelerated growth.
“Every year, millions of premium class seats fly empty across the globe, representing billions of dollars in unrealized revenue opportunity,” Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog said. “For airlines, ancillaries are currently estimated to be worth around US$60 billion. Seatfrog’s technology dramatically broadens the scope of this market opportunity by making upgrades seamless for passengers and maximizing efficiency and profit for airlines.”
“Our technology brings a mobile solution to market designed for the passengers of today. It keeps in mind the airlines’ continual need to evolve their ancillary strategies through intelligent use of data, and the passengers’ need for an intuitive, mobile-first platform that fits with their busy lives and takes the pain and confusion out of upgrading.”
Seatfrog is already tightly integrated with airlines’ booking systems, enabling frictionless set-up in a matter of days, and ensuring a seamless customer bidding experience through the smart use of live data. The cutting edge technology ensures airlines can close off sales and award frequent flyer upgrades first, before any remaining premium seats are opened up for passenger bidding right up to the gate.
“Without question, Seatfrog is the platform that the industry has been waiting for to improve the upgrade experience. Airline ancillary revenue strategies are fragmented and there is a lot of untapped potential, particularly in relation to the same-day upgrade process,” said David Soskin, co-founder and partner at HOWZAT. “The industry is positively ripe for disruption, and this represents a significant opportunity.”
“Seatfrog is a great example of an outstanding founding team, a superior user experience and powerful technology. Essentially, it’s that wonderful confluence of the right idea, and the right business, at the right time.”
Former Qantas International CEO and Advisor to Seatfrog, Simon Hickey, said: “Seatfrog is undeniably ahead of the curve. It not only delivers an exceptional mobile passenger experience, but it is a smart solution to the challenges of merchandising facing airlines and is already fully integrated across their systems, enabling real-time upgrades of ticket bookings right up to the departure gate.
“Seatfrog brings a level of intelligence and capability we haven’t seen before and I’m excited to see them drive innovation with airlines.”
The team has assembled an advisory board of industry heavyweights including leading aviation lawyer Richard Davis, fintech entrepreneur Mike Aston and the executive team at HOWZAT Partners, comprising former Cheapflights CEO David Soskin, Hugo Burge, and Sascha Hausmann.
Seatfrog is currently in private beta mode and launches this year.
For more information about Seatfrog and to be notified when it goes live, visit www.seatfrog.com.
Seatfrog is a world-first booking to gate, mobile-focused platform that engages passengers to participate in a transparent, open auction for an upgrade on the day of their flight. Seatfrog optimises price in real-time, driving engagement and maximising revenue by upgrading seats guaranteed to otherwise fly empty, with no threat of seat dilution or impact on frequent flyers.