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Mygola could (at last) be the startup to make your travel planning dreams come true

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Image Credit: Mygola Facebook

We wait all year to take a vacation and jet off someplace exotic for a week or two of glorious relaxation and adventure.

Unfortunately, the process of planning a trip sucks.

Travel startup Mygola has raised $1.5 million for its platform that CEO Anshuman Bapna said is the “world’s best travel planner.”

Mygola refers to the trip planning process as a “long, leaky funnel” that crushes the joy of anticipation and makes vacation seem like work. Mygola aims to compress six weeks of itinerary planing into 15 minutes.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 4.17.13 PMThe startup claims to have created the world’s largest collection of curated itineraries, culling them from sources like the New York Times and Fodors. It then guides travelers through building an itinerary, featuring information, reviews, tips, a scheduling interface, and easy tools for making changes.

Bapna said that Mygola interviewed hundreds of travelers, and many said that they hunt for a good “default trip” to start with.

However, many travelers don’t want to stick to a rigid schedule, or circumstances out of their control prevent them from sticking to one. Maybe your car breaks down, or you unexpectedly find yourself drinking with the second-string Irish national rugby team and unable to make your planned museum visit (this never happened to me, I swear).

This is where Mygola comes in.

Its platform converts structured itineraries, like those from guidebooks, into a customizable personal schedule. Based on data from hundreds of itineraries, Mygola can make recommendations on what is feasible, commonly traveled circuits, and must-see places using a combination of data mining, patent-pending algorithms, and freelance curators.

Then its engine searches creative-commons image databases for pictures to go along with your itinerary so they are more visually appealing than a spreadsheet. It also pulls other metadata about locations, like open/close hours and trips from other travelers, so all the information is accessible.

mygolaYou can book your entire itinerary from one place and if you get sidetracked, Mygola will adjust it accordingly.

Travel and tech are two of my greatest passions, but I am always disappointed by the options out there for trip planning. Goodness knows there are hoards of travel startups working on this problem — Plnnr, Utrip, Touristeye, TripAdvisor, Gogobot, Wanderfly, Vayable, TripIt, Wikivoyage, Desti, Peek, even Airbnb — but I’ve found few manage to be genuinely or comprehensively useful.

At least not more so than traditional guidebooks or my personal approach — winging it.

Mygola strikes a compelling balance between structure and spontaneity, and offers tools and advice that even stubbornly “go-with-the-flow” travelers might use. Its backed up by good design, deep data analytics, and customization tools.

Over two million travelers have used the platform, which currently covers more than 20,000 destinations around the world.

Helion Venture Partners this this round with participation from existing investor Blumberg Capital. It brings the total capital raised to $2.6 million.

Mygola is based in the U.S. with engineering offices in Bangalore.