DHARMA comes out of stealth with $3.5M backed by Pernod Ricard’s Convivialite Ventures and Mubadala’s Hub71 and announces the launch of a football travel brand for global superstar Eric Cantona.
Eric Cantona, the sporting legend and former captain of Manchester United, unveiled today that he is launching a travel brand in partnership with DHARMA, the disruptive startup that builds travel brands for the passion economy.
Eric Cantona commented: “Our idea was to create the most passionate football trips on earth, with charisma and soul. Everything today is optimised for price - we wanted to optimise for passion.”
Looking FC features 4-day trips uniquely crafted by Cantona himself that take guests on an immersive sporting pilgrimage to explore global football cities through the lens of the world’s most vibrant clubs and their loyal fans.
“We believe the future of travel will be driven by passion, not geography. As people re-assign their identities to online communities, the need for IRL connection with like-minded people will only grow - that is the space DHARMA’s travel-brand-as-a-service model is pioneering. Our value proposition is unique in that it blends online SaaS technology with automated tour operations, empowering iconic people and brands to not only monetize their network through travel but also create differentiation through the ultimate brand equity play: transformative experiences.” said Charaf El Mansouri, CEO and co-founder at DHARMA.
Launched in 2018 by travel pioneers Nisma Benani, Charaf El Mansouri, and Leah Howe, Dharma counts Culture Trip, the largest travel media publication in the world, Bitso, a cryptocurrency unicorn, Pernod Ricard, the second-largest wine and spirits maker globally, Equinox, the world’s leading luxury fitness brand, and Light Watkins, the meditation instructor for the likes of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, among its many clients.
“During a summit of Mount Toubkal we were organising for Equinox in Morocco, Charaf and I asked ourselves: what if we could do this for every Equinox in the world? The opportunities are limitless and we can’t wait to share the upcoming 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 relocating to Abu Dhabi from New York and Marrakech.
“If anyone has a doubt that the next travel tech disruption will come out of the UAE, they haven’t been paying attention. This country thinks in 50-year increments and is a case study in pushing the frontiers of travel.
DHARMA is a remote-native team with backgrounds in some of the most exciting tech and travel companies on earth such as Uber, Airbnb, Equinox, Butterfield & Robinson, and G Adventures. The company has announced raising a total of $3.5M over the past year backed by leading investors in the hospitality and passion economy space. This includes Convivialite Ventures (San Francisco), the CVC of Pernod Ricard, one of the largest wine & spirits makers globally, 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 leading VC in MENA, and Flat6Labs (Cairo), a leading accelerator in MENA.