Recent investor bets include a German short-term rental brand (Cosi), a Finnish startup that builds chatbots for hotels (Hotelway), an Australian startup that offers rural cabins for urban dwellers (Unyoked), and a French revenue management company (Yieldin).
Travel Startup Funding This Week
Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. Please email Senior Travel Tech Editor Sean O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have funding news.
This week, travel startups announced more than $30 million in funding.
>>Cosi, a short-term rental brand in Europe, has raised approximately $23.7 million (€20 million) in a funding round.
Soravia, a Vienna-based real estate group, joined as an investor with this round. Other investors taking part include Cherry Ventures, e.ventures, Kreos Capital, and Bremke.
Cosi operates serviced apartments and develops technology solutions for the real estate industry to automate operational processes. The startup has around 750 units under contract, with 1,500 more flats under negotiation. Despite the pandemic, the group recorded a booking occupancy rate of up to 90 percent at its units.
Christian Gaiser, CEO and co-founder of Cosi, grew up in a hotelier family but has been a digital professional. He co-developed the digital shopping prospectus Kaufda, which Axel Springer later bought.
Gaiser’s ambition is to create one of the world’s largest hotel chains.
Like its U.S. counterpart Sonder and Mexican counterpart Casai, Cosi is a blend of hotel and vacation rental. Its furnishings strive to be high quality, but it doesn’t offer on-premise any of the full-service amenities of a hotel, such as gyms or restaurants. The startup aspires to make its mobile app a digital concierge that can recommend local finds to visitors and be the way to check-in or and open a guest room door.
Cosi looks to acquire properties in districts with strong tourism demand. It recently took over a hostel in Berlin and converted it.
The company plans to use the funding to enter other markets beyond Germany — no prizes for guessing that Austria is on the target list — with a new brand. It’s also considering a business division.
>>Hotelway, a provider of guest communication tools to hoteliers, has raised an undisclosed round of financing.
Investors include Jyri Kuusela and Elias Aalto of Wolt, Leap Investors Oy (Matias Mäenpää and Anssi Kiviranta), Juni Holding Oy (Juha Saarinen), Lifeyri Oy (Pasi Penkkala), Avainco Oy (Paul Westerlund), DX Invest Oy (Tero Nummenpää), M.P. Korolainen Oy (Tuukka Korolainen), Novate AB (Sirkku Erlandsson).
Founded in 2017 in Turku, Finland, Hotelway is a specialist in chatbots powered by artificial intelligence. It has helped hotels engage with travelers via online chat in ways it says generate satisfaction and profit.
“We raised this round to be able to continue our international growth and our product development with newly refined tools,” said CEO Hannu Vahokoski. “Despite Covid-19, Hotelway has grown 80 percent within the past six months.”
>>Yieldin, the creator of a suite of self-learning revenue management software, has received an undisclosed amount of venture capital investment from Team ABC, which is composed of former executives from the travel and logistics space.
Team ABC now has a fifth of the startup’s equity. This is the first venture capital investment into YieldIn.
YieldIn’s primary source of revenue right now comes from small- and medium-sized airline customers such as La Compagnie, Air Belgium, and Flysafarilink. Its products help revenue managers track instances of spoilage and dilution, check that settings match goals for each route period, and better understand each route market situation. The tools also provide business intelligence to airline executives.
Its Visium software suite is used by airlines across Europe and Africa. Yieldin plans to use the funding to expand into Latin America from its Mexico City office.
“Yieldin will also diversify its customer base into ferries and buses in Argentina and Mexico within the next 3-5 months,” said Team ABC partner Aurelius Noell. “There are many use cases in this huge and underserved segment where Yieldin can generate value with slight tweaking of the core modules.”
>>Unyoked, which offers cabins in rural areas within two hours of major Australian cities, disclosed it had raised fresh funding with investors including Real Tech Ventures and Adam Schwab, co-founder of Luxury Escapes. Back in 2019, it raised about $900,000 ($1.2 million Australian).
Australian-owned Unyoked runs 24 cabins and has claimed 95 percent occupancy levels as the pandemic restrictions have lifted. Twin brothers Cam and Chris Grant co-founded the startup in 2017.
The cabins are mobile, small, and solar-powered, and they come with a small kitchen and a bathroom with a hot shower, plus outdoor chairs and hammocks. Unyoked has relied on marketing through Instagram, where it has more than 62,000 followers.
Unyoked may be lifted by news on Thursday that the Australian government had unveiled a A$1.2 billion ($928 million) tourism support package, aimed at boosting local travel.
Skift Cheat Sheet:
We define a startup as a company formed to test and build a repeatable and scalable business model. Few companies meet that definition. The rare ones that do often attract venture capital. Their funding rounds come in waves.
Seed capital is money used to start a business, often led by angel investors and friends or family.
Series A financing is typically drawn from venture capitalists. The round aims to help a startup’s founders make sure that their product is something that customers truly want to buy.
Series B financing is mainly about venture capitalist firms helping a company grow faster. These fundraising rounds can assist in recruiting skilled workers and developing cost-effective marketing.
Series C financing is ordinarily about helping a company expand, such as through acquisitions. In addition to VCs, hedge funds, investment banks, and private equity firms often participate.
Series D, E and beyond These mainly mature businesses and the funding round may help a company prepare to go public or be acquired. A variety of types of private investors might participate.
Photo credit: A property for guests to book via Cosi, a German short-term rental brand. Cosi