Cantona launches travel brand for football fans
Eric Cantona, the sporting legend and former captain of Manchester United, unveiled ‘Looking FC’ his travel brand last month, in partnership with disruptive startup Dharma.Offering the most passionate football trips on earth, Looking FC features four-day trips uniquely crafted by Cantona himself that take guests on an immersive sporting pilgrimage to explore global football cities through the lens of the world’s most vibrant clubs and their loyal fans. Eric Cantona commented: “Our idea was to create the most passionate football trips on earth, with charisma and soul. Everything today is optimised for price - we wanted to optimise for passion.” Dharma has announced raising a total of $3.5 million over the past year backed by leading investors in the hospitality and passion economy space. “We believe the future of travel will be driven by passion, not geography. As people re-assign their identities to online communities, the need for IRL connection with like-minded people will only grow - that is the space Dharma’s travel-brand-as-a-service model is pioneering. Our value proposition is unique in that it blends online SaaS technology with automated tour operations, empowering iconic people and brands to not only monetise their network through travel but also create differentiation through the ultimate brand equity play: transformative experiences,” said Charaf El Mansouri, CEO and co-founder at Dharma. Launched in 2018 by travel pioneers Nisma Benani, Charaf El Mansouri, and Leah Howe, Dharma counts Culture Trip, the largest travel media publication in the world, Bitso, a cryptocurrency unicorn, Pernod Ricard, the second largest spirits maker globally, Equinox, the world’s leading luxury fitness brand, and Light Watkins, the meditation instructor for the likes of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, among its clients. “During a summit of Mount Toubkal we were organising for Equinox in Morocco, Charaf and I asked ourselves: what if we could do this for every Equinox in the world? We are unlocking a new world of opportunity in travel that is disruptive and downright exhilarating, from wellness to street art. The opportunities are limitless and we can’t wait to share the upcoming launches and partnerships we have planned for this year,” said Leah Howe, CXO and co-founder. Dharma was one of the first startups accepted into Mubadala’s Hub71 programme, with the founding team relocating to Abu Dhabi from New York and Marrakech. “If anyone has a doubt that the next travel tech disruption will come out of the UAE, they haven’t been paying attention. This country thinks in 50 year increments and is a case study in pushing the frontiers of travel.” “Our mission is to connect the world through the power of shared experience. To find one’s dharma is to find one’s purpose, one’s alignment, one’s calling. That’s what travel should be all about, and that is something that resonates with our team, our investors, our hosts, and our guests. We are so excited about the future of travel, with 2022’s Booked GMV already 30x that of 2019, and 6x that of 2021,” said Nisma Benani, CFAO and co-founder.