By Nancy Dahlberg
Shoot My Travel, a global marketplace connecting travelers with on-demand professional photographers, has raised a $1.1 million venture capital round. Who's betting big on the Miami-based travel-tech startup? Silicon Valley angel investor Jason Calacanis.
Calacanis broke the news on Twitter on Sunday. “It’s basically ‘uber’ for travel photographers,” he tweeted.
Shoot My Travel CEO and co-founder Valerie Lopez confirmed the news on Monday. "We closed the round with Jason Syndicate and VC firm Ludlow Ventures. We raised $1.1M, and we raised to date $1.37M."
To be sure, Lopez belongs to a small club. Based on some recent counts, only 50 to 60 Latina founders have raised $1 million or more in institutional venture funding ever. South Florida is home to at least three: Maxeme Tuchman of Caribu, Ana Roca Castro of Genius Plaza and Lopez.
Shoot My Travel already serves 450 cities in 80 countries and counting. Through the website or app, users can connect with more than 1,000 vetted pro photographers from around world for travel photos “through the lens of a local.”
Lopez is seeing a large demand from honeymooners as well as wedding registries. “People want to give this as a more thoughtful gift, rather than the cookie cutter pots and pans,” Lopez said in an interview in November. With the new funding, more website and app improvements are in the plans as well as continued expansion.
In 2015, Lopez, a photographer, and Camilo Rojas hatched the idea for Shoot My Travel during a vacation, when selfies and blurry shots of them by fellow travelers just didn’t capture their experience. Until last year, Shoot My Travel was bootstrapped. Winning a startup competition in Japan opened some doors to investors. Then she opened her seed round while at LAUNCH.
“Getting funded in South Florida has been a challenge for us, because we hadn’t found anyone who shared our vision,” said Lopez in the earlier interview. “But we feel we are getting that traction from outside.”
At least five South Florida startups have participated in Calacanis’ LAUNCH accelerator and drawn investment: Shoot My Travel, Blanket, WhereBy,Us, Xendoo (winner of the Rise of the Rest Miami competition) and Daycation. Calacanis is an investor in more than 200 companies, including seven unicorns.
“A great founder can come from anywhere and VCs are starting to realize it. The world has changed -- finally,” Calacanis said, speaking at a Florida Funders conference in Miami Beach April 28.
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Photo at top: Valerie Lopez, CEO and co-founder, with co-founder and Chief Design officer Camilo Rojas (left) and Chief Operations Officer Andres Echeverry.