While venture capital funding of startups has dropped steadily since 2012, there are still ideas investors find worth funding, such as for short-term rental management, event venue marketplaces, and hotel distribution.
>>GuestReady, a startup that manages rentals on behalf of property owners, closed a $3 million seed round.
Impulse VC, a fund overseen by Roman Abramovich, led the round. Xponova, Boost Heroes (the venture fund led by Lastminute Group founder Fabio Cannavale), and Swiss Founders Fund also participated.
The startup, which only serves properties in London, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur today, will expand into new markets. It has also used the funds to acquire Easy Rental Services, a rival business in London and Paris.
GuestReady had previously raised $700,000 in an angel round and is a member of Station F’s startup incubator in Paris. It manages the listings for properties on Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, and other platforms, and it handles housekeeping, cleaning linens, etc.
For context, get a sense of how the market of short-term rentals is being “professionalized” by vendors by looking at this (partial) list of 300 new supporting service vendors mapped at airbnb-services.co. The sector is popular, with Vacasa raising $103 million earlier this autumn.
The London-based company, which has 20 full-time employees, lists “creative spaces” for rent, such as galleries, cafes, theaters, and cinemas. It says that in the past half year its gross merchandise value, bookings, and net revenue all rose by 300 percent, though the company did not disclose the base numbers they rose from.
CEO Andrew Needham said the company had raised $5.5 million (£4.2 million) in funding to date.
HeadBox claims that more than 100 companies, including Expedia, have signed up to its corporate dashboard to help event planners at companies manage multiple venue bookings across numerous teams and that it has serviced 10,000 corporate guest and host venue customers to date.
Note: Event and meetings tech startups raised $40 million in 2016, with Social Tables, a Washington, D.C.-based event planning software company, having a $13 million Series B round a year ago.
>>Zuhu Hospitality Solutions is a startup that manages all of an independent hotel’s distribution and revenue management. In particular, it aims to make sure a hotel is well optimised on online travel agencies and other channels.
The Singapore-headquartered startup received $2 million in a seed round. Wavemaker Partners (which, in turn, is supported partly by Temasek) led the round. The funding adding to the $1 million the startup had already raised.
In the company’s early days, it attempted to compete with online travel agencies with a consumer-facing marketplace. It let independent hotels list their rooms on Zuzuhotels.com under the Zuzu brand.
Zuhu now thinks of itself as primarily a behind-the-scenes, business-to-business partner. Soon it will be transitioning its consumer-facing zuzuhotels.com in favor of individual hotel microsites.
>>Skyhour, a website that lets Americans pay for flights by the hour on 350 airlines including JetBlue as a gift to others, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from JetBlue Technology Ventures. Maybe the airline’s venture arm sees it as a gift — and that you’re not supposed to reveal the price of a gift.
Related news: Two Expedia Inc. brands — Hotels.com and Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) — have launched a mentorship-driven accelerator program in London for early to mid-stage lodging startups in Europe, called Hotel Jumpstart, as we reported. Meanwhile, accelerator program Slingshot opened a travel-centric, Australian-focused, accelerator.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.
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Photo credit: GuestReady is a short-term rental management service that will use the fresh funding to expand into new markets. Its London-based team, with CEO Alexander Limpert in the center of the top row, is shown here. GuestReady