As of this week, travel and hospitality startup SkySquad might need a bigger wallet: the Maryland startup announced Tuesday that it had raised $1 million in a seed funding round.
The round was led by Elevate Capital, which focuses on underrepresented entrepreneurs, with additional participation from TEDCO, Citrine Angels, 1219 Capital and other angel investors. The funds include the $200,000 that SkySquad raised from TEDCO earlier this year.
SkySquad, which is based in Bethesda, connects travelers to in-airport assistance for luggage and other concierge services. Its in-airport assistants meet travelers at the airport to help them on their journey.
“It’s just so empowering now that we have this money, this funding where we now feel confident that we can achieve the goals we really want to achieve,” founder and CEO Julie Melnick told Technical.ly. “So it feels so good to be in this place.”
According to Melnick, SkySquad has grown to help over 16,000 customers since its founding in December of 2019. It’s grown about 70x over the last 12 months.
The funding will be used, in large part, to support the development of new technology at the startup. Melnick said that it’s looking to enhance the company’s backend software for its helpers (the assistants located at the airport), who currently use a number of low-code apps for booking, clocking in and more.
“We’re planning on putting some of this funding into the backend so that they have a really seamless experience, which we’re really excited to make their experience easier,” Melnick said. “We’re also going to be hiring a CTO, so that’s part of that process, and we’re also planning on more expansion.”
In addition to the CTO, SkySquad also plans to add more staff members in marketing and some engineers. Melnick predicts about five to 10 new hires in total.
With the funding news, the startup also expects to continue its growth at airports. It’s launching assistant services at Salt Lake City International Airport — its seventh partnership — on June 13th and expects to add three new airports by early 2023.
The expansion continues as travel rates increase and the pandemic continues to loom on summer travelers, but Melnick said that lines are still long and travel is still busy over the next few months — meaning there’s still room for travel assistance.
“Prices are higher, we’ve seen that ourselves, but people are still traveling, which is great for us,” Melnick said. “We want to get the word out so that they know SkySquad is an option and that we can make their trip easier.”-30-