DHARMA, an Abu-Dhabi-based startup brings the passion economy to the travel space
DHARMA sneaks out with US$3.5m backed by Pernod Ricard’s Convivialite Ventures and Mubadala’s Hub71 and announces the launch of football travel brand, Looking FC for global superstar Eric Cantona
LONDON, UK – African Media Agency – 12 January 2022 – Sports legend and former Manchester United captain Eric Cantona revealed today that he is launching a travel brand in partnership with DHARMA, the disruptive startup building travel brands for the passion economy.
Look FC by Eric Cantona. The most passionate football journeys in the world.
Eric Cantona commented: “Our idea was to create the most passionate football journeys in the world, with charisma and soul. Today everything is optimized for price – we wanted to optimize for passion.
Looking for CF (www.lookingfc.com) offers 4-day trips specially designed by Cantona himself that take guests on an immersive sporting pilgrimage to explore global football cities through the lens of the world’s most dynamic clubs and their loyal fans.
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“We believe the future of travel will be driven by passion, not geography. As people reassign their identities to online communities, the need for an IRL connection with like-minded people will only grow – this is the space where DHARMA’s travel-as-a-service brand model is pioneering.Our value proposition is unique in that it combines online SaaS technology with tour operations automated, enabling people and iconic brands not only to monetize their network through travel, but also to create differentiation through the ultimate game of brand equity: transformative experiences.” said Charaf El Mansouri, CEO and co-founder of DHARMA.
Launched in 2018 by travel pioneers Nisma Benani, Charaf El Mansouri and Leah Howe, Dharma counts Culture Trip, the world’s largest travel media publication, Bitso, a cryptocurrency unicorn, Pernod Ricard, the second largest world’s leading wine and spirits producer, Equinox, the world’s leading luxury fitness brand, and Light Watkins, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s meditation instructor, among its many clients.
“During a summit of Mount Toubkal that we were organizing for the equinox in Morocco, Charaf and I asked ourselves: what if we could do this for each equinox in the world? We are opening up a new world of opportunity in travel that is disruptive and downright exhilarating, from wellness to street art to cannabis. The opportunities are limitless and we can’t wait to share the next launches and partnerships we have planned for this year. » said Leah Howe, CXO and co-founder.
DHARMA was one of the first startups accepted into Mubadala’s Hub71 program, with the founding team having moved to Abu Dhabi from New York and Marrakech.
“If anyone doubts that the next disruption in travel technology will come from the United Arab Emirates, they have not paid attention. This country thinks in 50-year increments and is a case study for pushing the boundaries of travel.
DHARMA is a remote native team with backgrounds at some of the world’s most exciting technology and travel companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Equinox, Butterfield & Robinson and G Adventures. The company announced that it has raised a total of $3.5 million over the past year, backed by leading investors in the hospitality and passion economy. This includes Convivialite Ventures (San Francisco), the CVC of Pernod Ricard, one of the largest wine and spirits producers in the world, L&Ventures (Salzburg), the CVC of Loop Agentur, the global marketing agency for Puma, Red Bull and Porsche, BY Venture Partners (Beirut), early backers of Sowork, Thread and Ro, Shorooq (Abu Dhabi), the MENA region’s leading VC, and Flat6Labs (Cairo), the region’s leading accelerator MENA.
“Our mission is to connect the world through the power of shared experience. To find your dharma is to find your purpose, your alignment, your vocation. It’s what travel should be, and it’s something that resonates with our team, our investors, our hosts and our guests. We’re so excited about the future of travel, with 2022’s booked GMV already 30x that of 2019 and 6x that of 2021.says Nisma Benani, CFAO and co-founder.
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