Groupize closes $2 million in series A fundingNewsBy Sean O'Neil | July 10, 2013Share This article was originally published on Groupize, a Massachusetts B2B startup hoping to streamline hotel booking for groups, has raised $2 million in Series A funding.The round was led by Golden Seeds and included Launchpad Venture Group.Founded in 2010, Groupize helps planners book hotel rooms automatically. It has a request-for-proposal (RFP) system for groups of less than 25 rooms.It already has licensed its technology to "one of the world’s largest hotel chains", whose name it wouldn't disclose.It is perfecting a lead management tool to help organizers of larger-sized meetings.One of the first things Groupize will do with its funding is hire a vice-president for hotels, a UX/UI designer, and a Ruby on Rails developer.Then it plans to launch its retail B2B white label engine, with a dedicated contact center, on a revenue share model. The company says it already has been in talks with OTAs, GDSs, and self-booking tools about providing this service to them.These investors don't have specific expertise in travel, but the company has been previously seed-funded by Hotwire co-founder Gregg Brockway, TripIt co-founders Scott Hintz and Andy Denmark and Wandrian founder Mike Fuller -- all of whom have offered travel-relevant advice.Priceline has a little-advertised offering for group bookings that's one of the leaders in the online space, with about 2 million unique visitors a month.But Groupize isn't worried about Priceline or other rivals. Charles de Gaspe Beaubien told Tnooz by phone: Priceline currently uses a third-party, white-labelled request-for-proposal RFP system from HotelPlanner for its groups. We are also in the business of offering white labels to OTAs, GDSs, SBTS and web sites. Our tool is a full evolution. We offer dynamic shopping, access to yield managed group rates instantly, inventory checking, automated bookings, RFPs for meetings and larger groups as well as a group's page for group management and modifications -- a lot more that the current RFP-only systems out there.Share this quote Groople redux?It's a tough niche to tackle. A previous startup, Groople, raised between $6 million and $20 million in venture capital (depending on who you listen to), but never took off. It 2009, it sold for essentially its name rights for $100,000 and eventually ended up in HotelPlanner's hands.Groupize founder de Gaspe Beaubien diagnoses what went wrong with Groople this way: It was ahead of its time. Hotels weren't ready. It was using inflexible technology, mainly from Sabre, while today we have more dynamic connectivity. Groople's management also had a split focus on both B2C and B2B, while we're strictly B2B. It's silly to launch a B2C travel startup today. By not being focused, they didn't offer the full breadth of solutions hotels want. Hotels don't want planners to be able to automatically lock up large volumes of rooms without high visibility by management, for example. We have back-end controls as safety measures.Share this quote De Gaspe Beaubien says he brings 20 years of group tour experience to this project, having started his career in custom group planning and working his way up through eight different tour operators, including stints as vice president at Globus and Cosmos.One year from now, he hopes Groupize will have announced a second major hotel chain is working with it and that it will have its first major retail client (an OTA, a GDS or a self-booking platform) using its white-label tool.