MyGola raises $1.5 million in bid to become top travel planning siteNews / OnlineBy Karthick Prabu | October 17, 2013Share This article was originally published on Travel planning service Mygola has raised $1.5 million in Series A funding in an aim to become the world's best travel planning website. The total funding amount raised by mygola stands at $2.6 million. The latest round was led by Helion Venture Partners, with existing investor Blumberg Capital also participating. Helio managing director Ashish Gupta would be joining the board. The company says it is planning to use the fund to expand its presence in the US, experiment with various marketing channels, build a better mobile experience and to power growth in general marketing channels. Mygola, earlier a virtual concierge service (with its travel experts answering travel questions for a fee), recently pivoted to become an online travel planning service where users will be able to browse existing trip itineraries or create itineraries and also book them online. Co-founder and CEO Anshuman Bapna says: "Travel suffers from a blind-men-and-the-elephant problem. JetBlue knows when you're landing, AirBnB knows where you're staying and Viator knows which tour you're taking. "If we succeed in combining these elements into an itinerary that the traveler will take with them on their trip, we could become the gateway through which all online travel will get delivered. This could be the way to crack open the last bastion in online travel."Share this quote Bapna recently explained to Tnooz why his company chose to build a tablet-app first, instead of going the mobile way. Over the past three years, mygola has helped over two million travellers plan their trips. The platform covers more than 20,000 destinations worldwide. The company is headquartered in the US with engineering offices in Bangalore. Tnooz spoke to Bapna regarding this funding update: How many itineraries exist in the system? We have nearly 5000 itineraries in the system, and actually thousands more that we haven't published. The main reason is that our data suggests that there's diminishing (sometimes even negative) returns to having the 85th itinerary for Paris. So instead, we're pursuing greater coverage for offbeat areas, and for unusual themes in popular destinations. Any specific reason on why you want to expand presence in the US? US has one of the largest percentage of independent travellers and already accounts for 30%+ of our users (India is also 30%). In addition, we want to drive partnerships and US/Europe marketing efforts through the US. How is the response from customers after placing the "Book this trip" button in the itinerary page? Still very early days, but we're seeing 15% of our users who're planning trips subsequently going to our booking partners to transact. What differentiates mygola from competitive services? We're attempting the Holy Grail in travel - combining the choice and control that independent travellers crave with the convenience of one-stop travel planning and booking that so far only vacation packages have provided. We also have a tech+human approach that will be hard to replicate in either Silicon Valley or Bangalore - deep algorithms that mine unstructured data combined with thousands of human freelancers curating the data. Team size now, and planned team size in one year from now? Team size is currently 15, and we will continue to be in that range over the next six months. We're desperately looking for front-end engineers and designers though. Fun trivia: The entire company (+ spouses, kids and dogs) packs off for two weeks every year for a "workation" to hack.