Sydney-based startup Cozitrip has raised $2 million to date to build a B2B travel platform that allows Chinese travel agents to make bookings at hotels in Australia and New Zealand.

Backed by VC Follow[the]Seed and supported by Alibaba Cloud, founders Ping Wu and Rinat Sadykov want the online marketplace to bridge cultural differences between the two geographies and remove inefficiencies in the booking process.

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The platform aims to give Australian hotels exposure to the lucrative Chinese tourism market and make life easier for Chinese travel agents bookings hotels in ANZ — a process that still relies on phone calls and emails.

“There’s a big cultural difference in the way Chinese travellers book their trips and what they look for in their accommodation,” said Ping Wu, Cozitrip’s co-founder and CEO.

“The majority of Chinese visitors prefer personal interaction when arranging travel and choose to book their trip using personalised service travel agents who unfortunately often don’t understand the Australian market or language.

“These agents end up calling one hotel after another to figure out if it’s the right one and check availability, which makes it really hard for them to service their clients and market Australia as a destination. Our platform makes this a whole lot easier.”

Founded in 2015, Cozitrip is headquartered in Sydney at co-working space Haymarket HQ and has offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

Its recent $1 million investment round was led by VC Follow[the]Seed and follows an earlier $1 million round invested by wealthy entrepreneur Joseph Chou from IronFish and angel investors.

Alibaba Cloud provides most of the infrastructure for Cozitrip. The founders said Alibaba has provided great support — both technical and non-technical — for companies dealing with China.

In particular, Alibaba’s cloud computing business has provided guidance on how to overcome regulatory hurdles in China, the founders said.

Their advice for any start-ups interested in China?

“Try to find a Chinese-speaking co-founder. Talk to people at Haymarket HQ — it’s a great community for anyone doing start-ups with China — and be ready to learn to do business in ways you didn’t expect,” said Rinat Sadykov, co-founder and CTO.

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