Montreal and Boston-based Hopper has raised $82 million in funding. The deal is being led by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec along with prior investors including Brightspark Ventures, Accomplice, OMERS and BDC Capital.
According to the Globe and Mail’s Sean Silcoff, it’s the eighth Canadian tech VC deal in 2016 to exceed $75 million, up from just one in 2015. It’s part of the best year for early-stage tech financings in Canada since 2001. It’s also the third large-scale venture deal to be led by the Caisse in the past 15 months as the Quebec giant increasingly targets funding emerging Canadian tech.
Hopper’s mobile-only app claims it can predict with 95 per cent certainty when travellers should buy their seats for the best price. The app actually tells users “more often than not” when they should wait, rather than buy a ticket. It’s also notifying about three million users monitoring flights when prices will drop. Hopper, a registered travel agency, takes a small cut when users buy their plane ticket.
Hopper now has 10 million users, and it now sells $1 million worth of flights a day. According to Silcoff, Hopper will exceed $5 million in revenue for 2016, with a forecast to more than triple sales in 2017.
Hopper has earned accolades such as the Apple’s App Store Best of 2015 award, the Google Play Award for Standout Startup of 2016, and the 2016 Webby Award for Best Travel App.
“The metrics have been absolutely phenomenal over the last 15 months,” Thomas Birch, the Caisse’s senior director of fund management, told the Globe and Mail.
What’s more, said founder Frederic Lalonde, Hopper is sending over 20 million push notifications a month. Ninety per cent of Hopper’s sales come directly from push notifications
Prior to founding Hopper in 2007, founder Frederic Lalonde served as a vice-president for Experida. You could say he was born to be an innovator in the travel industry. Expedia had bought his startup years earlier, according to Silcoff, but Lalonde left the travel giant to start a data-driven company.
And as many readers of these pages know, it didn’t go as planned in the earlier days. It took something like half a decade for Hopper to first launch.
“After spending five years and $12-million, Mr. Lalonde was discouraged by his lack of progress,” and the founder nearly quit. His investors encouraged him to continue and he managed to find his niche in mobile-only deal-finding and predicting.
Top 10 announced technology/biotechnology venture-capital deals in Canada to date, 2016
1. BlueRock Therapeutics, drug development, Toronto, $295.3-million
2. Thalmic Labs Inc., wearable technology, Kitchener, $158.4-million
3. DalCor Pharmaceuticals Inc., drug developments, Montreal, $126.7-million
4. Real Matters Inc., property information services, Markham, $100-million
5. Hopper Inc., online travel service, Montreal, $82-million
6. Triotech Amusement Inc., entertainment devices, Montreal, $80-million
7. Zymeworks Inc., biotherapies, Vancouver, $78.1-million
8. Blockstream Corp., cryptocurrencies, Montreal, $75.8-million
9. Flipp Corp., mobile consumer marketplace, Toronto, $63.7-million
10. Farmers Edge Inc., agriculture technology, Winnipeg, $58-million
Source: Reuters and company news releases