Wednesday, 01 June 2016 12:03

Seatfrog prepares for global launch with $1.2 million fund raising


Embryonic new Australian travel technology startup, Seatfrog, has launched a $1.2 million funding round to accelerate its growth and expansion into global markets this year.

The company — currently in private beta mode as it prepares for a full launch this year  claims to transform the future of airline upgrades through live bidding on mobile right up to the gate, has announced the seed funding round will be led by London-based venture capital firm, HOWZAT Partners, the investment team behind hotel metasearch business Trivago, which sold to Expedia in 2013 in a deal worth US$1billion.

Seatfrog has also announced that former Qantas International CEO and aviation industry veteran, Simon Hickey, has been appointed as an advisor to the company.

Seatfrog will operate by auctioning premium seats, guaranteed to fly empty, right up until the time of departure, which the company claims is unlike any other upgrade technology in the market.

“Every year, millions of premium class seats fly empty across the globe, representing billions of dollars in unrealised 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 maximising 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.”

Griffin said 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”.

He said 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.

Howzat co-founder and partner, David Soskin, said "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. The industry is positively ripe for disruption, and this represents a significant opportunity.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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