Vancouver-based ToursByLocals raises $43 million CAD in first round of financing


ToursByLocals, an online marketplace that connects travellers in search of customized, private tours with handpicked tour guides, has raised $43 million CAD ($33 million USD) in growth capital. This funding represents the first-ever raise for the Vancouver-based company.

This funding represents the first-ever raise for the Vancouver-based company.

The private equity financing was raised from Tritium Partners, an Austin, Texas-based firm that has previously invested in the recreational vehicle marketplace, RVshare. ToursByLocals said the capital will be used to make enhancements in the platform’s user experience, technology, and marketing, as well as for hiring efforts.

Paul Melhus, CEO and co-founder of ToursByLocals, said he values the strategic advice offered by Tritium’s team and its network of marketplace executives, as the company continues to scale up its operations.

According to a report from travel, tourism, and hospitality market researcher Phocuswrite, the aggregate that travellers spend on tours, activities, attractions, and events reached $135 billion USD globally in 2016, which represented 10 percent of global travel revenue. Phocuswrite predicts this market could grow to $183 billion USD by 2020.

Founded in 2008 by Paul Melhus, Dave Vincent, and Luciano Bullorsky, the idea for ToursByLocals began after a trip by Melhus and Vincent to China, when the two discovered the market need for dependable local guides. Two years later, the peer-to-peer platform was born, and now offers travel experiences in over 160 countries.

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Bootstrapped until now, according to the news subsidiary of Phocuswrite, ToursByLocals claims that its platform has hosted over 1.4 million travellers since launching. Brett Shobe, a partner at Tritium, said the company “stood out as the premier private tour marketplace,” therefore making it attractive for investment.

Phil Siegel, Tritium co-founder and managing partner, said ToursByLocals has the potential to change the private tour industry similarly to how HomeAway, another Tritium portfolio company, influenced the vacation rentals market.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Kelsey Knight.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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