Written on the 31 May 2016 by Sydney Business News

SYDNEY travel startup Seatfrog, already backed by industry veterans, is at the centre of a London-led seed funding round.

London venture capital firm HOWZAT Partners - the investment team behind travel compatriot Trivago - will lead a AU$1.2 million seed funding round for live bidding platform Seatfrog.

The startup unlocks revenue opportunities for airlines by auctioning premium seats - guaranteed to fly empty - right up until the time of departure, unlike any other upgrade technology in the market.

Seatfrog is the only mobile platform enabling airlines to extend upgrades this close to take-off, with new boarding passes issued direct to the passenger's mobile for scanning at the departure gate.

Launching globally this year, the Australian startup has already attracted the likes of former Qantas International CEO, Simon Hickey, as an advisor. Hickey says Seatfrog is 'undeniably ahead of the curve'.

The AU$1.2 million cash injection will bolster Seatfrog's team, recruiting more talent in data science to support the company's accelerated growth.

"Every year, millions of premium class seats fly empty across the globe, representing billions of dollars in unrealised revenue opportunity," says Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog.

"For airlines, ancillaries are currently estimated to be worth around US$60 billion. Seatfrog's technology dramatically broadens the scope of this market opportunity by making upgrades seamless for passengers and maximising efficiency and profit for airlines.

"Our technology brings a mobile solution to market designed for the passengers of today. It keeps in mind the airlines' continual need to evolve their ancillary strategies through intelligent use of data, and the passengers' need for an intuitive, mobile-first platform that fits with their busy lives and takes the pain and confusion out of upgrading.

"Without question, Seatfrog is the platform that the industry has been waiting for to improve the upgrade experience. Airline ancillary revenue strategies are fragmented and there is a lot of untapped potential, particularly in relation to the same-day upgrade process."

The technology ensures airlines can close off sales and award frequent flyer upgrades first, before any remaining premium seats are opened up for passenger bidding right up to the gate.

Seatfrog has an advisory board of industry heavyweights including leading aviation lawyer Richard Davis, fintech entrepreneur Mike Aston and the executive team at HOWZAT Partners, comprising former Cheapflights CEO David Soskin, Hugo Burge and Sascha Hausmann.

The startup is currently in private beta mode and launches this year.

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