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Rocketrip rewards employees (with cash) if they travel on the cheap

You can earn $1 for every $2 you save your company on travel plans.

That’s the basic idea behind Rocketrip, a New York-based startup incubated in the latest Y Combinator batch. When companies use the platform, they motivate their employees to save by rewarding them with gift cards or cash equivalents equal to half the company’s savings.

“There isn’t a company on the planet that doesn’t have a travel and expense problem,” said Dan Ruch, Rocketrip’s founder and CEO, in a conversation with VentureBeat. “We introduce that incentive to align [employees’] interests with the company policy.”

Rocketrip was openly inspired by Google, which creates a bevy of tools for its employees intended to increase their happiness while also cutting costs. One of those tools is a travel management and expense app that operates much like Rocketrip. Ruch thought every company should have access to a similar tool.

The startup began developing its software last May and launched a closed beta in November. It currently serves seven companies, including Vidyo and Divide, which have saved a collective $110,000 across 108 trips, according to Ruch.

“In exchange for getting a product like this at no cost, they’re the windshield that hits all our bugs,” he said.

Rocketrip will introduce an open, paid model by this summer, Ruch estimated. But the company is already earning money from both gift card vendors and travel vendors.

The platform seems simple to use: You log in and tell Rocketrip where and when you’re traveling. The software determines how much that should cost based on real-time market data and your company’s policies (can you normally fly business class, for example?). Then employees book their own travel through any web-based service and send the digital receipts to Rocketrip, which automatically calculates how much they saved their company and awards them points in return.

Rocketrip today announced that it has raised a $2.6 million funding round led by venture firm Canaan Partners, with participation from Genacast Ventures and other investors. The company previously raised a $575,000 seed round from Genacast and others, so its total financing stands at a bit over $3 million.

The company, which currently has seven full-time employees, plans to double its headcount over the course of the year. The majority of the funds raised will go toward product development and engineering.

“I still consider this a gigantic experiment gone right,” said Ruch. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but so far it’s going great.”

More about the companies and people from this article:

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