Seattle travel planning startup Utrip will shut down after critical deal falls through – GeekWire
Utrip’s journey is over.
The Seattle-based trip-planning startup is ceasing operations after a deal that would’ve kept the company afloat fell through at the last minute.
“We are devastated to no longer be able to continue to operate and partner with you,” Utrip CEO Gilad Berenstein said in an email to clients obtained by GeekWire. Bernstein declined to comment further when contacted by GeekWire.
Utrip’s services will remain online until June 7, at which point the servers will come down, according to the email.
Founded in 2011, the company offered free itinerary-planning tools to consumers built with machine learning. Users entered information about the types of activities they like to do when traveling and related preferences. Utrip would then produce a schedule and other information to help them plan their trips.
Utrip made money by licensing its software and building products for businesses in the hospitality space, such as hotels and cruise lines. In 2017, Utrip partnered with JetBlue to create a trip-planning portal stitching together flights, hotels, must-see sites, activities, and restaurants. Other “strategic partners” included Hilton, Holland America Line, Allegiant, and Starwood Preferred Guest.
“Leveraging machine learning and advanced traveler preference data, Utrip enables travel companies, both large and small, to increase conversion rates, ancillary revenue, customer loyalty and engagement,” the company wrote on its website.
Utrip also had some high-profile investors. Executives from Apple and Costco, as well as Acorn Ventures, Plug and Play, and Tiempo Capital, participated in a $4 million funding round in early 2017. Seattle hotelier Craig Schafer was also an investor and former Expedia CFO Michael Adler sat on Utrip’s board of directors.
The company has 27 employees, according to LinkedIn. It was ranked No. 194 on the GeekWire 200, our index of top Pacific Northwest startups.
“We are so grateful for your partnerships over the years and for enabling us to help millions of travelers see the world in unique and personal ways,” Berenstein said in his email.
The CEO graduated from the University of Washington in 2009 and won Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 GeekWire Awards. He helped launch Utrip after a trip to Europe left him wanting a more personalized travel experience without paying a travel agent or spending a lot of time to research.
Other Utrip founders include Edan Shahar and Yair Berenstein.
Travel startups have taken off over the past five years, with a bevy of competitors such as Noken and Journy offering similar services to Utrip. Over that period, travel companies raised more than $1 billion in venture capital funding, according to TechCrunch.