Paul English’s Lola Nabs $20M For “Conversational Commerce” Play

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opening its own call centers around the country or contracting with existing travel company call centers, English says.

Lola’s service will initially be free for users, but the plan is to make money by charging a membership fee, which might be $99 a year or have tiered pricing. Lola will also charge airlines, hotels, and other vendors a commission whenever users purchase something from them. The company is also considering charging users fees if they frequently request changes to their bookings, English says.

The Series A money includes just under $12 million left over from the $20 million originally invested in Blade, the former venture fund/startup workspace led by English. After investing in seven startups, Blade’s team switched gears last year to focus exclusively on building Lola.

The Series A was rounded out by another $8 million from General Catalyst Partners and Accel, both of which also backed Blade, English says. In addition, he says he put some of his own money into Lola.

The investment will primarily fund new hires, English says. He didn’t give an exact hiring estimate, but the company is planning to move to a new office in the Boston area that can accommodate 100 employees, he says.

Along with the Series A announcement, Lola added former Orbitz Worldwide CEO Barney Harford, General Catalyst managing director Joel Cutler, and Accel partner Harry Nelis to the startup’s board.

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