An artificial intelligence (AI)-powered travel bot called Eddy Travels has raised about $500,000 in a pre-Seed funding round, according to reports. The funding round was led by Techstars Toronto, Open Circle Capital from Lithuania, Practica Capital, and angel investors from North America and Europe.
Eddy Travels was launched in 2018, and the company said it has more than 100,000 users around the world. Users can send both voice and text messages to the chatbot, and get back personalized suggestions for the best flights.
The company currently gets about 40,000 searches a month, which isn’t much compared to the other large travel companies, but it is decent for a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, Line and Rakuten Viber. Eddy Travels wants to expand into car rentals, hotels and various other travel services — its search is powered by its team-ups with Skyscanner and Emirates Airline.
Eddy Travels’ founders are CEO Edmundas Balčikonis, CTO Pranas Kiziela and CMO Adomas Baltagalvis — all from Lithuania, but the company operates out of Toronto.
Balčikonis got the idea for Eddy Travels when he went on a trip to China, and saw how they used WeChat for anything they did, from ordering and paying for a taxi to making online purchases. Many of the features were powered by mini programs of WeChat, some of which were like chatbots. Balčikonis was already fascinated by the chatbot and assistant movement, but the experience demonstrated their real-life applications.
He was later traveling in Latin America, and noticed that a messaging platform was an everyday part of life, especially when it came to travel. At the same time, he was frustrated with his experience of looking for cheap flights and accommodations.
Balčikonis then saw an opportunity with the new technology for AI, machine learning and language processing, which powers personalization. He told PYMNTS in an interview that he thought there could be a better platform that “is more personal, and would provide a customized trip-planning experience.”
To start using the service on Messenger, users can type the company’s name into the search field. A yellow hat will pop up, which represents its brand. Users can click on it and start a conversation.