Abu Dhabi-based B2B travel management platform, Dharma, has successfully raised $4.7 million in a pre-series A funding round. Led by San Francisco-based Convivialite Ventures, this round witnessed participation from notable investors, including marketplace-focused FJ Labs, Stephen Ross (owner of Equinox and Soul Cycle fitness clubs), and football legend Eric Cantona, among others.
This funding milestone marks a significant achievement for Dharma, bringing its total equity funding to $10 million. The company has recently gained attention through its partnership with Paramount Global, where they launched “Paris by Emily,” an official travel experience inspired by the hit Netflix series, Emily in Paris. With these funds, Dharma aims to expand its array of multi-day travel experiences, venturing into exciting new domains such as culinary, sports, fashion, and lifestyle tourism.
Dharma’s co-founder and CEO, Charaf El Mansouri, believes that the future of travel is passion-based, emphasizing: “If for the past 50 years, people have travelled for the where, the next 50 years, people will travel for the why. That’s the future Dharma is enabling. The idea that you could seamlessly book your next trip ‘hosted by your favorite chef, surfer, or fitness instructor’ is both universal and extremely personal.”
Established in 2018 by Nisma Benani, Brice Carpentier, Charaf El Mansouri, and Leah Howe, Dharma has been a part of Abu Dhabi’s global technology ecosystem through the Hub71 program since its inception. The founders made the strategic move from New York and Marrakesh to Abu Dhabi, recognizing the immense potential of the UAE’s burgeoning startup landscape.
As the UAE relentlessly pursues its Digital Economy Strategy, aiming to boost the sector’s contribution to GDP by 20% over the next decade, startups like Dharma play a pivotal role in achieving these ambitious targets. Additionally, the UAE is set on becoming the home to 20 unicorns by 2031, doubling its initial goal.
Dharma’s chief revenue officer and co-founder, Nisma Benani, affirmed their mission, saying: “Our goal is to continue attracting and retaining the most inspiring people and brands in the world by enabling them to create and host authentic travel experiences for their communities.”