The founding of Lola, a travel technology startup, might feel like the Oceans 11 movie series, as it is bringing together a constellation of industry boldfaced names to pull off an ambitious caper.
The Boston-based company will launch a mobile app that aspires to be an on-demand personal travel service that can plan, book, and manage travel for consumers.
Its founder Paul English (the co-founder and former CTO of Kayak) has brought on board many industry insiders as advisors and team members.
Today the startup said that Barney Harford, who departed as CEO of Orbitz Worldwide after its acquisition by Expedia Inc, has joined Lola as its non-executive chairman.
Joel Cutler of General Catalyst and Harry Nelis of Accel Partners have joined the board of directors.
Cutler’s and Nelis’s respective firms have pitched in fresh investment. Lola said today it has closed a $19.7 million Series A round, including money it had raised for its earlier incarnation as a consumer startup incubator called Blade.
The startup’s CTO is Bill O’Donnell, the one-time SVP chief architect of Kayak, which debuted in 2004 and was bought by Priceline Group. Its marketing and business development is being headed up byRobert Birge, former CMO of Kayak. Krista Pappas, the former global travel industry director at Bing, is leading the startup’s effort to create a membership benefits program.
The app is set to launch in the Apple App store in May, with an Android version to follow in its wake, Birge told Tnooz.
Pricing is evolving. The current plan is to charge on a subscription basis of $99 a year for “unlimited” usage, plus to possibly make money on hotel commissions.
The company has 43 full-time employees, including several travel agents being trained to use the new tools.
It may prove to be a tall order for a mobile app to blend the personal touch of a travel agent with the efficiencies of a mobile app. Many eyes in the industry will be watching to see this movie’s opening weekend.
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