Brook investment enables Wandrian to accelerate European booking system roll-out
BOSTON – Brook Venture Partners announces that it has closed on Series A venture funding that totaled $3.5M in Wandrian, Inc., a web-based rail reservation and ticketing services with a primary focus on European rail travel. Wandrian operates several websites as well as powers 7 of the top 10 travel websites which travelers use to book rail travel. “We are very excited about the opportunity that Wandrian presents, and look forward to the Company’s success in this underserved segment of the travel industry,” said Andrew Clapp, Partner, Brook Venture Partners.
Brook invested a total of $1,675,000 as part of a $3.5 million investment in Series A convertible preferred securities. Also investing was Boston Capital Ventures, L.P., a Boston-based venture capital firm, as well as an investment group led by the firm’s non-executive Chairman, Tommaso Zanzotto. Zanzotto was formerly President, International Activities, for American Express, and former Chairman and CEO of Hilton International.
The capital will be used to expand its services to other markets and to roll out the Company’s Global Distribution System which is being introduced on a country by country basis beginning in Italy. Wandrian has been working closely with Trenitalia, the Italian state-owned rail system, and quietly launched a country-wide, point-to-point booking engine earlier this month. Other countries will be added to the system later in 2005.
Michael Fuller, President of Wandrian, Inc., said, “We are pleased with our new investor as Brook brings a needed blend of guidance, experience, and of course, capital. The capital will enable us to add IT staff as well as other professionals required to support our growing list of rail customers.”
Wandrian was founded by Fuller, a travel industry veteran who was formerly an executive with Student Advantage. Fuller built the Company by focusing on rail, an underserved and very large segment of the transportation industry. In 2004 the Company won a European tender to provide technology and fulfillment services to Eurail Group, GIE, owners of the famous Eurail pass. Wandrian’s technology is being used in 40 Countries worldwide and Wandrian fulfills orders from around the world from their Columbus, Ohio based call and fulfillment center.
Fuller added, “Wandrian will soon be able to offer a superior booking and ticketing capability to the world’s leading railroads, starting in Europe where the Company has established its presence, and soon in the United States and elsewhere, where travelers are also looking for a simple and reliable booking solutions.”
Joining the management team last summer was Bernard Frelat, CEO of Wandrian, Inc., who was until recently, President and CEO of the Rail Europe Group, one of the largest travel companies in North American. During his tenure at Rail Europe Group, Frelat transformed what was a small European Railroad office in the U.S. into a several hundred million dollar corporate group.
The global rail passenger market is estimated to be more than $230 billion/year of which 37% comes from train travel in Europe alone. More than 12 million North Americans travel to Europe each year and currently $350-400 million/year of tickets are purchased by U.S. travelers before they depart for Europe.
About Wandrian, Inc.
Wandrian, Inc. operates several websites and ‘powers’ 7 of the leading 10 rail websites which facilitate booking of rail travel in Europe. Wandrian is developing the first Rail Global Distribution System (“GDS”) which will revolutionize the booking of rail travel, and establish Wandrian as the ‘Orbitz’ or ‘Expedia’ of the rail travel world. Wandrian is headquartered in White Plains, NY and has an office in the Boston area as well as Columbus, OH. For more information, call 914-428-6383 or visit www.wandrian.com.
About Brook Venture Partners
Brook Venture Partners provides expansion stage venture capital to information technology and medical technology companies based in the Northeastern United States. Brook is headquartered outside Boston in Wakefield, Massachusetts and has an office in Albany, NY. For more information, call 781-295-4000 or visit www.brookventure.com.