No travel buddy – no problem! Flash Pack recovers from Covid ready to build 1M travel friendships

Anna Vod · October 24, 2023 · Short URL:

The unique travel startup just scored $6.2M funding for US growth

It was years ago when you made plans with your bestie to travel to a place you talked so much about. But the timing just never worked out right. So, you put off your plans again and again, until the idea of traveling became an elusive, unattainable dream. You’ve probably seen that meme of two aged gals on the beach saying they found the time at last. Meanwhile, traveling alone may not seem like too much fun.

But this startup, called Flash Pack, leaves you no excuse for turning down a trip without a buddy – and the experience it offers won’t involve you alone.

It's the mission of Flash Pack: to build 1 million friendships through shared group travel. The company sends groups of people in their 30s and 40s on experiences involving teamwork, and it targets solo travelers in particular.

“Each Flash Pack adventure is meticulously designed to include experiences that would be almost impossible to arrange yourself – or too expensive to do on your own,” the company proclaims.

On Monday, Flash Pack announced it raised $6.2 million in a round led by early-stage consumer tech VC firm JamJar Investments, based in London. Repeat investor PPF Group, with offices in Amsterdam and Praha, also participated.

Flash Pack positions itself as a boutique-trips company, suggesting small-scale and selective. Speaking of prices, 12 days in Bali would cost you $3,045; for four days in Finland, you’d pay $3,195; 10 days in Chile are worth $5,295. Airplane tickets to and from the initial destination are not included; but the flights on route are, as well as the shared accommodations and airport transfers. Groups can consist of 14 travelers max. The offerings are categorized by trip types (beach escapes, safaris, wildlife, activities, etc.), trip duration, and destinations around the world.

With the new capital, U.K.-based Flash Pack hopes to spread its friendship connections throughout the United States. Already, the company sees 60% of its sales driven by U.S. travelers’ demand, and the market is now Flash Pack’s fastest-growing base. Over the next half-year, Flash Pack plans to triple its U.S. employee count, bolster its product and platform with hires in technology, and formalize its office opening in the market.

For Flash Pack, it’s a significant turnaround, a reemergence from the ashes. The business launched in 2014, but crumbled under the Covid-19 pandemic and was forced into bankruptcy due to worldwide travel restrictions. In 2021, co-founder and CEO Radha Vyas dusted off and tried again. In 2022, Vyas was among the 2% of female entrepreneurs to receive venture capital funding.

“Under Radha's leadership Flash Pack has escaped the fate of the pandemic and come out better than ever, and so we have high hopes for what they will achieve over the next three years,” said JamJar Investments’ Richard Reed.

Vyas commented in a statement Monday: “Solo travel has rapidly grown in popularity as people look to make up for lost time and expand their horizons, and the recent investment indicates the value and opportunity in this growing trend.”

Lee Thompson, the co-founder of Flash Pack and Vyas’s husband, was a global photojournalist prior to launching the company. During his work trips, he came across hidden-gem locations around the world overlooked by tourists. In a blog, Thompson shared about the “loneliness epidemic” he found himself in as he turned 40 and realized he had neglected his friendships.

“I had this real urge to find ‘my’ people,” Thompson writes, as he embarked on his journey of proactively making friends while also setting up a way for others to do the same.

On a side note – Flashpackers do have limited options of bringing a buddy along. Meaning – if your friend changes his or her mind at the last minute, there are still ways to get in, and bond even closer during one-of-a-lifetime experience.

Images used in part from: Flash Pack, Rawpixel

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