In a significant boost to its ambitions, Abu Dhabi-based travel startup DHARMA has successfully secured $4.7 million in pre-Series A funding, taking its total funding to $10 million. This investment comes at a time when the travel industry is ripe for transformation in the post-COVID era.
Leading the funding round is San Francisco-based Convivialite Ventures, known for its investment in Atmosfy. The round also witnessed substantial participation from prominent investors such as marketplace-focused FJ Labs, Stephen Ross (owner of Equinox and SoulCycle), and media giant Liontree. Notable backers include Shorooq Partners, Matt Higgins from Shark Tank, football legend Eric Cantona, consumer fund Goodwater, and Skift founder Rafat Ali.
With this capital injection, DHARMA plans to further expand its roster of world-class creators and venture into new verticals, including culinary, sports, fashion, and lifestyle tourism. The startup aims to offer multi-day travel experiences that are curated and hosted by renowned individuals and brands.
Charaf El Mansouri, CEO and Co-Founder of DHARMA, expressed his pride in being based in the forward-thinking UAE, highlighting the global resonance of their concept. He emphasized the idea of seamlessly booking a trip hosted by one's favorite chef, surfer, or fitness instructor, underscoring the personal and universal appeal of their platform.
Nisma Benani, CRO and Co-Founder at DHARMA, emphasized the goal of attracting and retaining inspiring people and brands worldwide, enabling them to create authentic travel experiences for their communities. She stressed the importance of nurturing communities and fostering real-life connections through their platform.
Wendy Wattebled, Partner at Convivialite Ventures, conveyed her team's excitement in supporting DHARMA's growth as they strive to become a key player in the passion travel sector. She echoed their belief in DHARMA's vision of connecting the world through shared experiences.
Founded in 2021 by Nisma Benani, Charaf El Mansouri, and Leah Howe, DHARMA has a remote-native team with backgrounds in leading tech and travel companies like Uber, Airbnb, Equinox, Butterfield & Robinson, and G Adventures. The startup recently partnered with Paramount Global to launch "Paris by Emily," the official travel experience for the popular Netflix series, "Emily in Paris." DHARMA's marketplace offers unique multi-day travel experiences, including football derbies with Eric Cantona, summiting North Africa's highest peak with Equinox, and discovering Paris through the lens of "Emily in Paris" with Ines Tazi.