The Romanian travel tech startup, Framey, has recently raised a $1 million seed funding round led by ICE Capital from Dubai and backed by Europe-based JECO Capital. Founded in 2019, Framey is developing a mobile app that aims to disrupt the travel industry, specifically how people plan their trips. The funds will serve the company in expanding the team and launching globally.
Transforming dream photos into memorable trips
Framey’s mission is to guide travellers through beautiful hidden spots around the world while offering a new angle for renowned attractions.
Robert Preoteasa, the co-founder and CEO of the startup, describes the company’s product, a mobile app, as a largely scalable social network for travellers and a disruptor of the travel industry. The company bets on the power of visuals to influence and guide travellers into planning their next adventure.
In the app, users will be able to find interesting places to visit and their exact locations to plan travel itineraries accordingly. Further, they will be able to share inspiring pictures and moments with the community. A sort of combination between a social media platform and a planning tool dedicated to travelling.
Social travel platforms and services are not new. Big players in the travel industry such as Trip Advisor, Foursquare, Airbnb, and Booking.com have also targeted this market. Among others, Framey differentiates itself through a focus on collaboration and community-building in the global travel ecosystem:
“We want to engage with all the stakeholders within the travel ecosystem. From creators to travellers, local authorities and travel-related brands, we are looking to gather everyone together with a simple objective – to inspire people to travel and see new places by taking advantage of the power of visuals. There are a lot of local places and experiences that travellers can interact with within their own countries and we want to facilitate this process through our app. People will be able to find nearby places, one-day trips from their hometown and discover more local experiences,” tells Robert Preoteasa to The Recursive.
Adapting to post-pandemic traveller behaviour
Entrepreneurs Robert Preoteasa and Alexandru Iulian Florea founded the company back in 2019. Unfortunately, the pandemic started soon after and during the most restrictive periods of the global lockdown travel companies were frozen. Interest in travelling – particularly cross-border tourism – plummeted. Even so, Framey managed to come out successfully out of this crisis period in the travel sector by adapting to new travelling behaviours:
“It was a good opportunity for us to see how this will impact our audience’s behaviour when it comes to travelling. In the autumn of last year, we noticed a growth higher than 50% in the search volumes for domestic attractions. We realised that people started to travel a lot more in their own country and discover local attractions. So, this became part of our mission: inspiring people to discover more about their own countries. We also used this time to improve our product and get daily feedback from the early-beta testers,” Robert shares with The Recursive.
Investors were convinced by the unique value brought by Framey in the travel industry. Andrei Costescu, technology entrepreneur and CEO at JECO Capital, believes that Framey reinvents travel planning by, among others, simplifying it. Instead of researching for hours on various websites, you use one social media platform on your phone.
Robert Preoteasa also tells us how they will use the funds. “Our focus within the first year is to grow the app user base, onboard new creators, add more attractions from all over the world, and improve our product based on our users’ feedback.”
A flourishing travel tech sector in the SEE region
Elsewhere in Southeast Europe, travel tech companies that are thriving have also adapted to new travelling behaviour and needs following the disruptions brought on by the global lockdowns. We looked at the most promising travel tech startups from Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece here.
ClaimCompass, for instance, is a Sofia-based startup founded in 2015 and backed by investors such as 500 Startups, Good News Ventures, Social Capital. ClaimCompass allows air passengers to receive compensation for flights that have been delayed, cancelled, or overbooked.
In Greece, Ferryhopper has been around since 2016 and is backed up by Metavallon VC, LAUNCHub Ventures, and easyGroup. The startup’s online platform books and compares ferry tickets for around 160 Greek islands and ports. Since the pandemic started, the company offers extensive guidance on their website for passengers to plan, book, and get refunds for a ferry trip.
The pandemic has also increased the need to make travelling planning experiences safer and easier. Blockchain technology offers a centralized, encrypted data recording which is more difficult to hack. Transactions are simultaneously registered in the records of all stakeholders and are available to see in real-time. LockTrip, a Bulgarian blockchain travel startup backed by Webjet, aims to eliminate third-party travel arrangement agents by gathering tourist operator travel offers on its platform. Offer can then be purchased by clients using the LOC currency of the company.