It’s been a crazy first year here at Fora HQ. What started in August 2021 – with meetings in TriBeCa coffee shops and all-nighters in Brooklyn – is now a modern travel business, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs to transform their passion for travel into income.
Since our founding, we’ve built an out-of-the-box, tech-enabled and proactively inclusive organization, and a global network of travel advisors along with it. Our advisor community has grown from friends and friends-of-friends to nearly 500 travel advisors around the world.
And the best part? We’re just getting started.
This month, we’re celebrating with an epic birthday announcement. With our partners at Heartcore Capital and Forerunner, we have raised $13.5 million in a Series A funding round. This funding is an incredible milestone for our organization.
We sat down with Fora’s founders, Evan Frank, Jake Peters and Henley Vazquez, for a fireside chat in the sky-lit meeting room of Fora’s new HQ office. We talk about what this funding means for Fora and its advisor community – and what’s still to come.
Interested in turning your passion for travel into $$$? Become a travel advisor today.
“It’s very validating,” co-founder Evan Frank said. “It’s really hard to raise 13.5 million dollars with just an idea. This funding round validates that we’re doing something right, and that it really resonates with people.”
This vote of confidence – from advisors and investors – was a resounding source of pride for all three founders.
“Learning that there are so many people that want to be involved in this is the best part,” Jake Peters, Fora’s co-founder and chief product & technology officer, said. “We started with a small pool of advisors. That worked, then we thought, ‘Does it work for 10 people? What about 50? What about 500?’ When the momentum starts to show up and move forward on its own, and people recognize it, that’s kind of amazing.”
“It’s been incredible to see our advisors succeed and watch our community grow,” echoed Henley Vazquez, Fora co-founder (and, unofficially, Fora’s Travel Agent #1). “We always wanted to create a travel agency that empowered anyone who loves travel to earn income. And seeing it click with people makes us think, ‘Hey, this is really working.’”
Another exciting element of Fora’s first year is the breadth of travel advisors who have joined our community.
“For me, what’s been incredibly gratifying is to see all of our advisors – 97 percent of whom have never sold travel, and who are from all different walks of life – find vocational meaning and flexible work. And they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it,” Evan said. “We didn’t imagine it would be people from all different backgrounds, living all over the world. We have advisors who are reaching out from Europe, Australia; we have an active advisor in India right now.”
“It all goes back to bringing people together through travel,” Henley said.
For Jake, the Series A funding is about jumpstarting new opportunities.
“It really expands our horizons,” he shared. “This allows us to build a longer-term vision and a new mentality for how to do things. Now we can think more broadly and say ‘You know what?’ Let’s take the time to do this the right way.’ Thanks to the funding, we don’t need to scramble for short-term metrics. We can stick to our conviction.”
So, what exactly is next at Fora? For starters, we will use the funding to accelerate the next evolution of our platform: a tech-forward client and booking management system exclusively for Fora Advisors.
“Our goal is to make our advisors’ job as seamless as possible,” Jake said. “And this system will be a game-changer.”
Even better: advisors have a seat at the table in building our technology.
“What’s interesting is that we know our advisors really well,” Jake said. “We’re not just building for an unknown set of users out there on the internet; we’re building for people whose names we know, who will respond with feedback – good, bad and really specific. “It’s cool when people say, ‘Hey, thank you for building this, it allows me to do my job more easily.’ Those are the real ‘aha’ moments for me.”
Hands-on community support has always been a priority at Fora.
“Everyone on our team is talking to advisors all day long,” Evan said. “We’re in their inboxes, we’re on Zooms, we’re all in it, “ says Evan. “And they recognize that. Seeing this validation from advisors means we’re really on to something.”
This emphasis on community starts at Fora HQ, which has finally found a permanent home at an architectural landmark building in TriBeCa, New York City.
“We’re just over 20 people on staff now, but we haven't made the team overly structured,” Evan said. “We are all equally important. Jake, Henley and I have the same philosophy: we want to be learning from everyone on the team, because each person brings something different to the table.”
Despite our different backgrounds, there is something we all have in common (of course).
“Everyone here is united by their love of travel,” Henley said. “And even more, there’s a shared understanding that, together, we can really change in the industry for the better.”
… together being the operative word.
“It feels like we’ve come a really long way, and that’s because we’ve done it together,” Evan said. “And that’s nice. They say if you want to go fast, do it yourself, if you want to go far, do it together.”