ZuBlu, a travel platform focusing on scuba diving and underwater adventure travel has successfully secured USD 1 million during its seed funding round. The round was led by Wavemaker Partners, Southeast Asia’s leading early-stage venture capital firm investing in enterprise and deep tech companies. Other investors include Mana Impact, she1K, and a number of strategic angel investors.
ZuBlu is a unique digital platform that is transforming dive travel globally, with a primary focus on destinations within Asia. Founded in 2017 by British co-founders Adam Broadbent and Matthew Oldfield, the platform aims to empower users to make informed and sustainable travel choices effortlessly, by combining their decades of scuba diving experience and a commitment to ocean conservation, with powerful technology and a market-leading team.
Backed by Hong Kong-based startup investor and accelerator, Betatron, since 2019, ZuBlu has grown rapidly and demonstrated enormous potential in this fragmented sector of the travel industry. In 2020 alone, and despite the global impact of COVID19 on the travel sector, ZuBlu has successfully grown its resort partner network and member community by 46% and 425% respectively and says it is primed for the return of travel.
Adam Broadbent, co-founder of ZuBlu, said:
“We have enjoyed an incredible few years since starting ZuBlu and I have never been more excited for the future of travel. It is no doubt that the industry as a whole is currently undergoing a drastic transformation. Scuba diving and underwater adventure travel - in particular, to remote destinations home to incredible experiences - are uniquely positioned to flourish in a post-coronavirus market. More than ever, we expect people to seek out memorable encounters, to want to escape the crowds, experience new cultures and support sustainable business practices - all of which are central to ZuBlu’s ethos.”
The scuba diving travel sector in Asia alone is valued at USD 4.5 billion and expected to grow significantly, with the largest provider of scuba diving training and certifications issuing over a million certifications globally each year. Today’s experience-led culture is creating increased awareness and demand for ocean adventure travel, with millions of inspirational experiences showcased across social media and other online platforms every day. However, due to its complex nature, this niche travel sector is largely underserved by mainstream tourism operators.
Booking dive travel can be lengthy and complicated; understanding the right destination and time of year, identifying the best place to stay, and making sure a responsible operator is selected, are all hurdles faced by dive holidaymakers. ZuBlu says its unique search platform puts the power of discovery in the users’ hands, by allowing them to search, compare and book some of the most inspirational eco-friendly operators, exciting destinations and memorable experiences in the world – all at the click of a button. The platform is underpinned by the founding team’s deep knowledge and understanding of the sector, unrivalled within the space.
With the increasing popularity of this sector, comes an increased need for responsible travel - something that ZuBlu says is at the heart of its offering. Every operator present on the ZuBlu platform is vetted for its commitment to sustainable practices prior to its addition, including those that adhere to the UN-backed Green Fins code of conduct.
Paul Santos, Managing Partner of Wavemaker Partners that led the funding, said:
“Scuba divers are typically very passionate, high-value travellers. We were surprised to learn how inconvenient it is for them to find good information to plan and book their trips. Through this pandemic, ZuBlu has experienced strong traction from divers already planning their trips despite the current global slowdown in travel. This combined with the company’s high capital efficiency means they can spend time building and refining their platform and onboarding more high-quality travel partners. We are confident they will benefit from unlocking pent-up demand as soon as travel restrictions ease.”