Salt Lake City-based Zartico has raised a $20 million Series A round led by Arthur Ventures (Minneapolis, Minnesota) with participation from Peterson Partners (Salt Lake City). Since its launch in March 2020, Zartico has raised a total of $24.5 million and booked over $10 million in deals with more than 180 clients.
“Smart destinations represent an $18 billion market, and the company that can provide the most detailed and actionable data on diverse visitor economies is sure to capitalize on this tremendous opportunity,” said Ryan Kruezinga, general partner at Arthur Ventures and New Board member of Zartico. “Zartico is well-positioned to achieve this, having not only the most advanced analytics in the industry, but also the domain expertise to earn the trust of tourism destinations across the country.”
Founded by Darren Dunn (President) and Jay Kinghorn (CIO), Zartico uses data intelligence, analytics and visualization to help tourism organizations make data-driven strategic and operational decisions. Sarah Lehman was soon recruited as CEO.
“We use big data and technology to solve the biggest and most difficult challenges in tourism and destinations,” said Lehman. “Challenging issues include under-tourism, over-tourism, responsible tourism, trying to stretch the tourism economy to provide year-round jobs and capacity in urban and rural destinations, and helping cities attract the right visitor at the right time .”
Kinghorn and Dunn came up with the idea. Kinghorn worked at the Utah Bureau of Tourism and built a program to manage all incoming information and data so the bureau could make better decisions. He saw a need for real-time insights into tourism patterns. Dunn traveled the world and saw the same needs on a global scale.
Prior to Zartico, Lehman was CEO of ENVE Composites, a sporting goods manufacturer based in Ogden. In her eight and a half years with the company, Lehman took ENVE Composites out of the abyss of bankruptcy, expanded it and sold it to Amer Sports, where she stayed for two years to help integrate the company. Lehman was named CEO of the Year by Utah Business Magazine, Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and received the Women in Technology Award for her leadership at ENVE.
During a career hiatus, Kinghorn and Dunn recruited Lehman as CEO. She decided to seize the opportunity, with encouragement from her children and husband.
“I wanted my kids to see that when I was fifty I could learn a whole new industry and get out there and feel really uncomfortable,” says Lehman. “So I jumped, with the blessing of my teenagers and my husband. It’s been a hell of a ride and I love tech, but it’s a whole new world. I feel like I’m drinking out of a fire hose, but I feel like I’m going to school every day. It is great.”
Being a B2B software company focused on tourism data, the pandemic has been a major obstacle. Like most B2B software, the team planned to sell Zartico at trade shows and conferences, but the company was starting in the middle of the pandemic and they needed a new way to promote the company.
Dunn and Zartico CRO Dave Bahlman took the unconventional route and drove from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland in a rented RV, meeting potential clients along the way.
They drove 2,954 miles across the US, setting up messes in parking lots along the way, complete with a small tent and plants. Zartico started right out on the street on a small computer and TV screen with 42 different dates. Since then, Zartico has grown from three partners to over 180.
Zartico brings in large datasets that address three main factors: visitor flow, visitor spend, and events. This anonymized data shows where visitors go and spend money, and analyzes which events they come to, e.g. B. basketball games, promotions, concerts and shows. With the launch of 3.0 ZDOS® this week, the product will now feature a proprietary Integrated Data Model™ enabling new industry benchmarks and indices.
“We bring in those insights and then we combine them and layer all that information together so customers really understand who’s here, where they’re going and where they’re spending,” says Lehman. “There is no cash register per se in tourism. It’s not like someone walks into a store and uses their credit card, and the store knows exactly what value they’re creating. In tourism, you have to triangulate the value of the visitor economy and learn how to deal with it.”
Beyond this concept, Zartico also focuses on the well-being of the local community. The company researches and advises on how to align visitor experience with resident experience.
During his visit to Venice, Lehman noted the impact of tourism on the local community. “Because of high rents and overcrowding, local residents have left this beautiful community to go elsewhere,” she says. “If we can impact that in any way, bring the residents back and bring the local flavor back to this destination, then we’ve done our job.”
Striving for harmony in the tourism industry is just one way Zartico focuses on its core values of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Internally, 55% of the company is female, a very high statistic for a tech company. For comparison, women make up just 23% of all tech jobs at Apple, Google, and Facebook, and just 20% at Microsoft.
“One of my top priorities and missions is to make this company a reflection of the world we live in — not the state we live in or our little pockets — but the world,” says Lehman. “That’s why we’re aggressively pursuing not only gender diversity, but ethnic diversity and sexual diversity as well.” It really is one of our most important values.”
Lehman believes that in the tourism industry, “you have to have a diversity lens” to make an impact in the industry. Travel fosters human connection and prosperity, and Lehman understands that a company that supports the travel industry should have the same mindset.
Zartico’s main customers are government agencies, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) that exist at state and city levels, and airports. There are applications beyond these markets and Zartico hopes to eventually expand into airports, stadiums and major attractions.
Zartico currently covers the United States and Canada and will be expanding into the Caribbean in the near future. Global expansion has been held back because of Covid, but Lehman says, “We certainly expect to be a global company very quickly.”
The company previously completed a small seed round in August 2021 with participation from an unnamed group of business owners and advisors.
“We want to be the target operating system,” says Lehman. “By that I mean we want to be the command and control center to help these amazing communities manage their visitor economy. We want to look at how we can manage and govern the visitor economy so that it improves the quality of life for our residents and improves our communities.”