Just plane convenient
Houston-based travel software company closes multimillion-dollar Series A and plans growth
When you fly, you can definitely rely on the fact that you're going to encounter two things: long airport walks and even longer airport lines. This Houston startup is ensuring that you have less of both of those.
Grab is a mobile software company that's designed an app where travelers can see what eateries they are going to pass in their airport visit and order their meal from their phone. The company has also expanded on their technology to include restaurant kiosks and mobile ordering from the table.
Grab was founded by Mark Bergsrud, who worked in senior leadership roles for almost 20 years at Continental Airlines and then United Airlines, following the merger. For Bergsrud, Grab feels like another major mobile game changer the industry experienced.
"I spent many years thinking about the travel experience and how to make it better and faster," Bergsrud says. "This feels like how mobile check in felt. There was a problem customers didn't know they had — check in wasn't that difficult anyway, but to be able to have that control, people love it."
Grab launched in the Atlanta airport in 2015 and now has a presence in 37 airports around the world, including Dallas and Austin though, ironically, not yet either of Houston's airports. Expansion is in the works, says Bergsrud.
"Our strategy is to build a ubiquitous network of partners, marketplace, and restaurants at all major airports," he says.
Also included in Grab's growth plans is to white label the software to include it in existing travel apps, like airline apps. Grab is already integrated into the American Airlines app.
"We don't want customers to have to work hard to figure out they can take advantage of this," Bergsrud says.
Grab, which has grown to a team of 20 people based in Headquarters in EaDo, has new resources to continue its growth. London-based Collinson Group was the sole contributor to Grab's multimillion-dollar Series A round, which closed last week. Along with financial support, the company, which is best known for its Priority Pass lounge membership program, also offers a huge network of partners and years of travel experience.
"We've called ourselves a startup for a long time, and now we think of ourselves as more of a scale-up company," Bergsrud says. "Now it's about having the money to scale faster."
As for where Grab will be scaling, Bergsrud says they are focused on the top 30 airports based on enplanements — including Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport — as well as creating more partnerships with airlines.