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As travel returns, Bethesda’s SkySquad has million-dollar growth plans for 2022

The travel and hospitality startup recently raised $200,000 from TEDCO, with plans to close a $1 million round at the end of the month.

SkySquad CEO Julie Melnick. (Courtesy photo)
With fresh funds — and probably an airplane ticket or two in hand — Maryland travel startup SkySquad is ready to hit the (airport) runway in 2022.

SkySquad, which is based in Bethesda, is a service that connects travelers to in-airport assistance for luggage and other concierge needs. Through its platform, travelers are met at their car by assistants who provide a helping hand on their journey through the airport. Since its launch in 2019, the company has helped about 10,000 passengers in and around the airport.

The startup, which is currently available at airports in Baltimore, DC, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia and Fort Lauderdale, closed a $200,000 funding round from Maryland state funding agency TEDCO in December. The funds, which will help expand the team and service offerings, are only the beginning. SkySquad is also raising a $1 million round, which CEO and founder Julie Melnick said is expected to close in the next few weeks.

Travel was slow at the beginning of the pandemic, Melnick said, which actually gave her the time to bring on a cofounding team. And about a year ago, the startup nabbed an additional $150,000 from TEDCO’s Builder Fund. She now anticipates a huge return to travel this year and is ready to grow with the trend.

“People are so ready to travel now,” Melnick told Technical.ly. “A lot of people that we help say to us, ‘This is our first flight in two years, thank you for your help!’ Or, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so overwhelming. Thank God I found you!'”

The funding round will help fuel that momentum, Melnick said. She plans to put the money towards expanding the company’s technical team, including adding a full-time CTO and support engineers, as well as its geographical footprint. SkySquad currently looks to expand to Orlando, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, with hopes to add a few managers in those locations once they’re up and running.

With the tech team boost, Melnick said, SkySquad is planning to build more sophisticated tech elements.

“We’re really excited about building up the platform right now,” she said. “It’s actually a really robust platform that our VP of operations developed. It’s been really cool, but it’s a no-code and low-code right platform right now, so we’re really excited to bring in some real tech.”

The funding will also be put towards additional marketing and adding airline partners, which could help make travel even more smooth while putting the startup before even more passengers.

As the company expands, Melnick hopes it can be even more useful for customers. Its current limited presence means that customers might be able to use SkySquad at their departure airport, but not the one they’re arriving at or stopping at during a layover. Eventually, she hopes, more users will be able to use SkySquad during their whole trip.

“We will grow with the travel coming back,” Melnick said. “Really, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing, which is providing amazing service to the customers we’re serving every day.”

Companies: TEDCO

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