As Air Travel Picks Up, Elude Raises $3M to Give Millennials and Gen Z a Way to Get Out — Cheaply

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

As Air Travel Picks Up, Elude Raises $3M to Give Millennials and Gen Z a Way to Get Out — Cheaply

As governments cautiously lift COVID restrictions and borders reopen, the founders of millennial-focused travel app Elude are optimistic about the future of travel.

The app lets users enter their budget and see the types of trips they can afford, instead of having to enter destination after destination, only to see themselves priced out.

After securing a $1 million seed round a few months ago and signing up 25,000 users, co-founders Frankie Scerbo, 35, and Alex Simon, 28, were ready to go bigger.

The two sought some marquee names in tech to help build their travel app. With advice from former CMO of Instagram Cliff Hopkins, former Airmap CEO Ben Marcus and co-founder of Priceline Jeff Hoffman, they readied their app for wider use and locked down more funding.

Elude co-founders Frankie Scerbo and Alex SimonElude co-founders Alex Simon (left) and Frankie Scerbo

The Los Angeles-based startup announced Wednesday that it received $3 million in funding led by ATX Venture Partners. Other investors include, Mucker Capital, Unicorn Ventures, Upfront Scout Fund, StartupO, Grayson Capital, Gaingels, Maccabee Ventures and Flight VC.

In a couple weeks the iOS app will also be available on the web for Android users. Soon, the company plans to roll out a "one-click" buying option similar to the one Amazon pioneered.

The U.S. Travel Association projects leisure travel spending to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as vaccination rates rise and people feel more comfortable hanging out with family and friends. At least 58% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated as of Nov. 16, according to the CDC. But international travel is not projected to rebound for years.

The money raised is being used to fuel marketing efforts, improve their tech, and hire additional engineers.

Younger generations are redefining travel as they consume most of their content and research on their phone. In a recent survey by Healthcare Insider, millennials are the age group most eager to resume traveling.

"Our user base right now ranges from that millennial age all the way up to families that are looking to book but from a social standpoint, from marketing, it skews on to the younger age," Scerbo said.

But the two know that to make a mark in this competitive space, where established players like Expedia and Airbnb dominate, they needed to seek out people who understood the market intimately.

"We were very deliberate early on with getting individuals that really did understand the space and can help us navigate the travel industry," Simon said.

That led them to reach out to former Priceline executive Jeff Hoffman, who helped build the discount travel service that lets users bid on flights and hotel stays from the ground up.

Simon said, the thinking was, "Let's build a relationship with these individuals knowing that it's not from a capital or cash point of view, but simply just from their background and their experience."

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Behind Her Empire: AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy On Redefining Success and Embracing Identity

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

AAVRANI Co-Founder Rooshy Roy
Photo courtesy of AAVRANI

Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Rooshy Roy said, as the only Indian girl in school, she spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider and like she wasn’t meeting others’ expectations of “how an Indian girl should behave.”

Flash forward 20 years, and the differences Roy was once ashamed of are now the inspiration for her skincare company.

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