Tastemakers raises $1.4M to sell Africa experiences to the world

New York based startup Tastemakers has raised a $1.4 million seed-round—led Precursor Ventures—for its business that connects Africa adventures to global consumers.

Tastemakers’ platform curates, prices, and lists African travel and cultural experiences—from paragliding tours to wine-tasting to concerts.

The startup generates revenues by taking a 20% commission on each transaction. Community managers in Africa screen and select experiences that go up on the site .

Tastemakers will use the investment to grow the number of experiences offered from 200 to 10,000 and build out machine learning capabilities to better match suppliers, experiences, and clients—CEO and founder Cherae Robinson told TechCrunch.

She likened the site to an Airbnb for commoditizing and connecting people to Africa travel experiences at scale.

On the startup’s addressable market, Robinson references a segment of culture curious travelers: people who are travelling to experience things such foreign art, food, music, or dance workshops.

“We looked at who’s doing these kinds of tours and and the number of people booking…and we found that globally, based on triangulating that, there are about 700 million people globally booking culture forward experiences,” said Robinson.

For different reasons—from negative stereotypes or the difficulty of identifying tourist options in Africa—most of these excursions are occurring in other parts of the world, according to Robinson.

She sees Tastemakers’ value proposition as the site that can bring a greater percentage of these culture travelers to Africa.

On revenue potential, Robinson is pretty up front on numbers and goals. “If we can capture 1% of that [700 million] market in the next five years that’s $2.2 billion generated on our platform,” she said, noting an average booking cost of $308. She believes Tastemakers could hit those figures by 2025—and by applying their 20 percent commission—reach income of $434 million.

Tastemakers Africa Ghana III

Precursor Ventures Managing Partner Charles Hudson invested in Tastemakers for its potential as an early entrant in an off the grid travel market attracting more curiosity.

“I just had a sense that Africa was having a moment, and whether its Black Panther or more startups that have a foot in Africa, that there were more people interested in going to Africa,” he told TechCrunch.

“And it’s not like going to New York City…You have providers that are hard to find and hard to book..that are not super well marketed. If you can become an aggregator and curator of those, you could effectively become the largest source of lead generation,” Hudson said.

Tastemakers is looking at  ancillary partnership and revenue share opportunities. It uses Stripe and WorldRemit to process mobile payments for transactions on the site and has done promotional partnerships with Uber Africa. The startup also counts Kempinski Hotels as its biggest lodging partner.

Tastemakers also offers advisory services to sellers on the site, to better determine price-points and on marketing their travel experiences more effectively online.

CEO Cherae Robinson is clear about the company’s for-profit status, but sees upside for Africa beyond generating business from tourism. “I strategically don’t brand Tastemakers as a social impact startup…but we’re driving benefits of the sharing economy to diverse populations both in Africa and in underrepresented communities in the technology and tourism sectors,” she said.

 

Andreessen Horowitz values camping business Hipcamp at $127M

Hipcamp uses technology to get people away from technology.

The San Francisco-based startup provides a “people-powered platform” that unlocks access to private land for camping, glamping or just a beautiful spot to park your RV, as described by Alyssa Ravasio, founder and chief executive officer. Amid explosive growth in emerging markets, including Florida and Texas, the company has attracted a $25 million Series B investment at a valuation of $127 million.

Andrew Chen, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has led the round and will join Hipcamp’s board of directors as part of the deal. Caterina Fake of Yes VC, Sarah Tavel of Benchmark, August Capital and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures also participated in the financing, which brings Hipcamp’s total funding to $41.8 million. We first covered Hipcamp in 2014, when the nascent startup raised a $2 million seed round led by AlphaTech.

A self-described internet nerd and avid camper, Ravasio loves the outdoors, as you might’ve guessed. She founded Hipcamp after becoming frustrated with the complex process that is identifying and booking campsites across the U.S.

“I couldn’t believe how difficult the whole process was,” Ravasio told TechCrunch. “I had one camping trip where I spent five hours doing research and almost gave up … I realized camping was broken and the internet could fix it.”

In 2013, Ravasio learned to code and built the first iteration of the Hipcamp platform, a comprehensive database of campsites that earns money by taking a commission made from each booking it facilitates. Today, the company has grown to 40 employees, with campsites in 300,000 sites across the U.S. and plans to expand internationally soon.

“We’re committed to getting people outside, and that’s really the guiding light of our expansion plans,” she said.

As for long-term plans, an Airbnb acquisition wouldn’t make sense, Ravasio explained: “I think going public and making Hipcamp a company that anyone can buy and own part of is exciting to me”

Airbnb introduces new search tools for business travelers

As more companies turn to Airbnb for Work to arrange work trips, the vacation rentals, homes and experiences business is making things easier for business travelers.

The company already provides thousands of listings catered to business travelers, complete with flexible access, personal kitchens for home-cooked meals and/or on-site laundry. Now, customers can easily locate those listings with Airbnb’s new search capabilities for business trips.

Airbnb’s work trip toggle, available globally as of today, allows guests to customize their search results for work travel and make more informed booking decisions by immediately filtering out vacation homes and other less convenient offerings. Airbnb is relying partly on social recommendations to ensure the correct listings — which includes entire homes, Airbnb Plus homes and boutique hotels — are showcased, including listings that have positive ratings from business travelers specifically.

Airbnb for Work launched in 2014 and has quickly grown to account for a large chunk of the company’s overall bookings. Last year, to account for the popularity of the service, Airbnb expanded its work arm to include Airbnb Experiences tailored for teams and more. Today, 500,000 companies are using Airbnb for Work to help manage their business travel.

Airbnb’s latest product tweak shows how personalized the platform can become — and is becoming — as it accumulates data from its massive trove of customers. The company, which counts 6 million listings in more than 100,000 cities, is doubling down on customization, M&A and more as it prepares for an initial public offering expected soon.

GuestReady raises $6M to help hosts on Airbnb and other services manage their property

GuestReady, a three-year-old service that lets shared-economy hosts manage their business on Airbnb and other rental sites, has announced a $6 million Series A round.

The investment was led by existing backer Impulse VC — the Russian fund that is backed by billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich — and new addition VentureSouq from Dubai. Other past backers also took part, including Boost Heroes, Aria Group and 808 Tech Ventures. GuestReady raised $3 million in 2017 and this round takes it to nearly $10 million from investors to date.

GuestReady’s property management platform helps owners manage the intricacies of operating a shared-economy house, such as cleaning, laundry, and check-in and out services. It claims to cover over 2,000 properties across six countries: the UK, France, Portugal, UAE, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Airbnb is the obvious platform to work with, but a sizeable volume of business comes from Expedia’s HomeAway business and Booking.com, GuestReady CEO Alexander Limpert told TechCrunch in an interview.

Limpert added that GuestReady’s annual booking volume is close to reaching $50 million on an annualized basis. Over the last year, the company’s take-home revenue has tripled with a lower burn rate, he added, although he declined to provide specific figures.

The GuestReady Team

That growth has come courtesy of a series of M&A deals.

Indeed, this new infusion of cash comes months after the company completed its fourth acquisition to date, snapping up France-based rival BnbLord, a startup that it claims is the largest Airbnb host platform in France and Portugal.

That deal, which Limpert said is the company’s largest to date, was a “strategic play to become the market leader in Europe” — and it could be followed by others.

The GuestReady CEO said the company is engaged in “quite a few conversations right now” over potential acquisitions, with this new capital potentially fuelling those moves.

“We believe the market [for guest services] will consolidate,” he said, explaining that many young companies start out with promise but struggle to scale successfully once they hit 50-100 properties under management.

“They realize this is an intensive business without good processes and technology,” he added.

Still, the company is likely to retain the focus on its current markets with the potential to add “one or two” new cities further down the line.

“For now, we’re seeing so much potential in our current markets,” explained Limpert. “London and Paris are two of Airbnb’s biggest markets globally, for example, with 60,000 properties… we manage a couple of hundred of them.”

In travel tech, 4 rivals merge in Europe to form Altido for property management of Airbnb-style homes

The growth of Airbnb and other big travel startups has given a fillip to the wider travel industry, and today several smaller startups in the short-term property sector are announcing that they have merged to tackle the opportunity with more scale.

The UK’s BnbBuddy and The London Residents Club, along with both Hintown from Italy and RentExperience from Portugal — all companies that help manage properties that are listed on platforms like Airbnb — have combined to form a new startup called Altido.

Going into the merger, all four were profitable, having all been boostrapped from day one. But Michael Allen, the MD of the BnbBuddy, said that now the combined entity is using its scale and raising outside funding to grow the business. Altido is looking to raise a Series A in the tens of millions of dollars. It is not disclosing its valuation currently although the fact that it already has an international presence and profitability have helped it in this area, Allen said.

The combined company will have about 1,700 properties under management in 21 European destinations, which it will be using as the anchor for an aggressive push both on existing markets as well as other parts of Europe and beyond. There is a long way to go: as a point of comparison, when Guesty — which provides services to manage rentals of private homes on Airbnb and other services — announced $35 million in funding in March, the number of properties managed on its platform had reached 100,000 across 70 countries.

Other competitors will include the platforms themselves where these properties are getting listed: as Airbnb inches to an IPO, it’s adding ever more services and features to its platform to diversify its revenue streams and also bring in more revenues per customer. (As we’ve said before, that could also make Altido and others like it acquisition targets.)

The growth of Altido’s individual businesses up to now has been on the back of the massive growth surge we’ve seen around platforms — marketplaces, to be more precise — that help people easily list and rent out travel accommodation in private homes as an alternative to hotels; and would-be visitors to find, book and pay for these in an efficient and reliable way, alongside a wider growth of self-catering accommodations that exist as alternative to traditional hotels.

The wider market for “homesharing”, as the first of these categories is sometimes called, has become massive — with Airbnb, the outsized startup leading the charge, now valued at $35 billion — and it now accounts for some 20 percent of the supply of rooms globally by Altido’s estimate.

Some property owners are happy to play host and run and manage their own listings on these platforms — which include the likes of Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO, and many others — but a big part of the scaling of these services has come by way of third-party management companies that handle different aspects of those listings, from cleaning before and after guests and stocking kitchens and bathrooms with consumables; to managing the relationship with the visitors; to managing the listings themselves.

Altido provides an end-to-end service for those who do not want to play host, alongside a business where it also helps maintain and manage service apartments and aparthotels and guesthouses.

Today the companies that make up Altido rely on third-party platforms to disseminate all those listings, but longer-term, the plan will be to build out more services to offer listings directly as well, alongside more technology to help hosts and other management companies optimise pricing and details around the properties themselves to make them more attractive.

“We see tech as a big enabler,” Goncalo Ribeiro, the founder of RentExperience, said in an interview. He said that his company already has proprietary algorithms that it uses to help calculate property risk factors, which it already uses and will roll out across the whole of the merged company, and the different operations have already been building technology to help onboard properties more efficiently. Areas that it hopes to address include “regulation risk, potential growth rates, historic market data, marketing calculations and more. Any decision we take we want to be proven by data.”

Pana raises $10 million to help companies arrange travel for onsite interviews

Your last 10 emails with a recruiter before an onsite interview probably shouldn’t be about rebooking your canceled flight.

Pana is a Denver startup now setting its sights on the corporate travel market, with a specific eye towards killing the back-and-forth email or spreadsheet coordination. The startup, founded in 2015, first tried to gain an inroad with consumers, but its $49 per month individual-focused travel concierge plan probably limited its reach.

The company’s latest shot at taking on corporate travel lets companies use the service to outsource dealing with out-of-network “guests.” The startup is looking to take this path as an inroad into the broader corporate travel market, and is making the apparent choice to work with more expansive corporate travel companies like SAP’s Concur rather than against them, initially at least.

The company just closed a $10 million Series A round led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from Techstars, Matchstick Ventures, and MergeLane Fund. Previous investors also include 500 Startups, FG Angels and The Galvanize Fund.

Pana is already booking thousands of trips per month for companies using the service to coordinate business travel for interviewees. Rather than leaving recruiters to the arduous process of back-and-forth messaging to hammer out initial details, Pana takes care of it through an omni-channel mesh of automation and human concierge in-app chat, text or email.

“A key piece of the value proposition is that if you do ask something complex, we’re going to instantly connect you to a human agent,” founder Devon Tivona told TechCrunch in an interview. “When it does go to a person, we have a five-minute response time.”

Getting a flight booked for someone outside the company directory can be challenging enough, but with travel, everything grows infinitely more complex the second that something goes awry. In addition to functioning as a tool for coordination, the startup’s team of assistants are there to help re-book flights or re-arrange travel if everything doesn’t go according to plan.

Even if Pana is working with the big corporate travel agencies today, its investors are banking on the startup accomplishing what the giants can’t at their scale.

“…Whenever a really large incumbent, particularly in software gets acquired, and I’m thinking about when SAP acquired Concur five or so years ago, it creates this massive innovation gap that allows, I’d say, new startups to really reinvent the status quo,” Bessemer partner Kristina Shen told TechCrunch in an interview.

Pana’s current customers include Logitech, Quora and Shopify, among others.

China’s Ctrip now owns half of India’s MakeMyTrip following share swap with Naspers

China’s Ctrip, the world’s second largest online travel company, is doubling down on India after it announced a deal to increase its ownership of travel company MakeMyTrip to nearly half.

Ctrip will boost its ownership of MakeMyTrip, which is listed on the Nasdaq like Ctrip, to 49 percent through an exchange deal that sees Naspers, the South African internet giant and early backer of Tencent, swap its shares for 5.6 percent of Ctrip. Ctrip said the investment leaves it with four percent of MakeMyTrip’s voting power.

On paper, each stake is worth around $1.3 billion. MakeMyTrip has a current market cap of $2.69 billion while Ctrip’s current share price gives it an overall valuation of $23.5 billion. In the industry, only Booking Holdings is valued higher with a current market cap of $84 billion.

There’s a long history between the three companies. Ctrip and Naspers invested $330 million into MakeMyTrip two years ago, a move that saw Naspers deepen its involvement after its portfolio company Ibibo merged with MakeMyTrip in January 2017. Prior to that, Ctrip invested $180 million into the India company in January 2016.

“Over the past years we have witnessed the great achievements of MakeMyTrip, and we are confident that MakeMyTrip will extend its success in the future,” read a statement from James Liang, co-founder and executive chairman of Ctrip.

“We are also delighted to welcome Naspers to become our shareholder. Ctrip will continue to work hard to create greater value to our customers, our partners and all shareholders,” added Ctrip CEO Jane Sun.

MakeMyTrip co-founder and co-CEO Rajesh Magow said the deal would take his company’s partnership with Ctrip “to the next level.”

The deal comes as Naspers prepares to list its international business, which includes advertising giant OLX and stakes in numerous internet companies, in the Netherlands.

Ctrip’s past deals have included the $1.74 billion acquisition of Scotland-based Skyscanner and the undisclosed purchase of U.S-based travel discovery app Trip.com. It has also invested $463 million in China Eastern Airlines and swapped shares with Chinese rival Qunar.

Today’s share swap deal is forecast to close in this current Q2, according to an announcement from Ctrip.

Airbnb officially owns HotelTonight

Airbnb has completed its acquisition of the last-minute hotel booking application, HotelTonight, the company announced on Monday. The deal is Airbnb’s largest M&A transaction yet, and will accelerate the home-sharing giant’s growth as it gears up for an initial public offering.

Airbnb reportedly began talks to acquire HotelTonight months ago, and finally confirmed its intent to acquire the business in early March. Reports indicated a price tag of more than $400 million; Airbnb declined to comment on the size of the deal.

As part of the deal, HotelTonight co-founder and chief executive officer Sam Shank will lead the boutique hotel category at Airbnb, one of the company’s newer units meant to help it scale beyond treehouses and quirky homes.

“When we founded HotelTonight, we sought to reimagine the hotel booking experience to be more simple, fast and fun, and to better connect travelers with the world’s best boutique and independent hotels,” Shank said in a statement. “We are delighted to take this vision to new heights as part of Airbnb.”

Shank launched the San Francisco-based company in 2010. Most recently, it was valued at $463 million with a $37 million Series E funding in 2017, according to PitchBook. HotelTonight raised a total of $131 million in equity funding from venture capital firms including Accel, Battery Ventures, Forerunner Ventures and First Round Capital.

Guesty, a tech platform for property managers on Airbnb and other rental sites, raises $35M

The growth of Airbnb — and likewise other platforms like Booking.com, VRBO and Homeaway for listing and renting short-term accommodation in private homes — has spawned an ecosystem of other businesses and services, from those who make money renting their homes, to cleaning companies that make properties “Airbnb-ready”, to those who help design listings that will get more clicks. Airbnb has seen some wild success so far, but it turns out that being a part of that ecosystem can be a lucrative business, too.

Today, Guesty — a Israeli startup that provides a suite of tools aimed at property managers that list on these platforms — is announcing that it has raised $35 million, money that it will use to fuel its growth, after seeing the number of properties managed in some 70 countries through its tech double to over 100,000 in the last year.

The company is not disclosing valuation with this round, which was led Viola Growth with participation also from Vertex Ventures, Journey Ventures, Kingfisher Investment Advisors, La Maison Compagnie d’Investissement, TLV Partners and Magma Ventures. But Amiad Soto, the CEO and co-founder, noted that it too has “more than doubled” since its last funding almost a year ago. PitchBook notes that round was around $90 million post-money, so this would put the current valuation at at least $180 million, likely more.

The idea for Guesty came about like many of the best startup ideas do: out of a personal need. In 2013, twin brothers Amiad and Koby were renting out their own apartments on Airbnb, and found themselves spending a lot of time doing the work needed to list and manage those properties.

Their first stab at a business was an all-in-one service to help hosts get their properties ready and subsequently tidied up for listings. “I was cleaning apartments, Koby was doing the business development, and my girlfriend was doing the laundry,” Soto told me in an interview. They quickly realised that this was never going to scale, “and also that our competitive advantage was building software. We are computer geeks.”

So the company quickly pivoted to building a platform that could provide all the tools that property managers — who work with individual property hosts/owners and had started emerging as key players as Airbnb itself scaled out — needed to juggle multiple listings. (That girlfriend is now his wife, so seems like they may have pivoted just in time.)

Guesty started as SuperHost and, like Airbnb, went through the Y-Combinator accelerator. It eventually rebranded to Guesty, and it now provides tools in a dozen areas that touch property managers and the job they do: Channel Manager (“channel” being the platform where the property is being listed), Multi-Calendar, Unified Inbox, Automation Tools, Mobile Management App, Branded Website Task Management, Reporting Tools, Owners Portal, Payment Processing, Analytics, Open API, 24/7 Guest Communication.

The plan is to complement that in coming years with more “smart” tools: the company is introducing AI and machine learning elements that will help it suggest more services to users, and for managers to use to do their jobs better. (One example of how this might work: if you have a property manager in New York City, and the city regulator changes something in the tax code for properties in Brooklyn, this will now be suggested through to managers whose properties are affected, and this can help with pricing modelling down the line if the manager, say, wanted to keep a specific margin on rentals.)

Perhaps because short-term property renting is a relatively new area of the accommodation and residential market, it’s fairly fragmented, and so Guesty is providing a clear move to consolidate and simplify some of that work.

“There are about 700 different services and other things that go into short-term property rentals,” Soto noted when I asked him about this. “It would take me hours to go through it all with you.”

And indeed, the market itself is much bigger than what Guesty is currently working with. Soto estimates that there are around 7 million properties now collectively getting listed on these short-term letting platforms, speaking to the opportunity ahead.

Guesty very much got its start with Airbnb and that helped it not only establish what property managers needed, but also to forge a close relationship with Airbnb at a time when it wasn’t yet building many bridges to third-party services. Soto said Guesty built its own private API to use with Airbnb, and subsequently helped inform how Airbnb eventually build an API that others could use.

It’s still a trusted partner in that regard. Now that Airbnb is moving into multi-dwelling arrangements — that is, rooms in hotels (which will now expand with its HotelTonight acquisition), plus multiple apartments in single buildings for big groups that might want to secure bookings at several places at once — it will very soon be launching a tool for these kinds of listings. Guesty has helped in the building of that, too.

Still, the opportunity for short-term lettings is bigger than Airbnb itself these days. Booking.com and its many subsidiary businesses have made a big move into this area, as have many other companies, and Guesty now handles bookings on a number of “channels”. Soto said on average, the number of bookings on its platform that are listing on Airbnb is 60 percent, with some vacation spots seeing the percentage much lower, and some urban markets seeing a much higher penetration.

This is one of those cases where being an early mover in identifying a market opportunity has worked in a startup’s favor. Guesty’s strong work with Airbnb has helped the startup build stronger ties with those companies that hope to compete with it and give Airbnb a run for its money: Booking.com, Soto notes, is a premier partner these days.

“Guesty was the first to recognize the potential of the property management market and has quickly become a category leader with its vertical-oriented, end-to-end approach,” said Natalie Refuah, partner at Viola Growth, in a statement. “Technology and AI continue to disrupt the innovation stack, acting as a catalyst to the digitization of “traditional” areas such as real estate and travel. Guesty is leading the charge, fostering a more seamless experience for property managers while providing clear advantages to customers and ultimately, their guests. We believe that with its experienced and elite executive team, Guesty is fully equipped to modernize and revolutionize the property management ecosystem.” Refuah is joining Guesty’s Board of Directors.

Guesty, a tech platform for property managers on Airbnb and other rental sites, raises $35M

The growth of Airbnb — and likewise other platforms like Booking.com, VRBO and Homeaway for listing and renting short-term accommodation in private homes — has spawned an ecosystem of other businesses and services, from those who make money renting their homes, to cleaning companies that make properties “Airbnb-ready”, to those who help design listings that will get more clicks. Airbnb has seen some wild success so far, but it turns out that being a part of that ecosystem can be a lucrative business, too.

Today, Guesty — a Israeli startup that provides a suite of tools aimed at property managers that list on these platforms — is announcing that it has raised $35 million, money that it will use to fuel its growth, after seeing the number of properties managed in some 70 countries through its tech double to over 100,000 in the last year.

The company is not disclosing valuation with this round, which was led Viola Growth with participation also from Vertex Ventures, Journey Ventures, Kingfisher Investment Advisors, La Maison Compagnie d’Investissement, TLV Partners and Magma Ventures. But Amiad Soto, the CEO and co-founder, noted that it too has “more than doubled” since its last funding almost a year ago. PitchBook notes that round was around $90 million post-money, so this would put the current valuation at at least $180 million, likely more.

The idea for Guesty came about like many of the best startup ideas do: out of a personal need. In 2013, twin brothers Amiad and Koby were renting out their own apartments on Airbnb, and found themselves spending a lot of time doing the work needed to list and manage those properties.

Their first stab at a business was an all-in-one service to help hosts get their properties ready and subsequently tidied up for listings. “I was cleaning apartments, Koby was doing the business development, and my girlfriend was doing the laundry,” Soto told me in an interview. They quickly realised that this was never going to scale, “and also that our competitive advantage was building software. We are computer geeks.”

So the company quickly pivoted to building a platform that could provide all the tools that property managers — who work with individual property hosts/owners and had started emerging as key players as Airbnb itself scaled out — needed to juggle multiple listings. (That girlfriend is now his wife, so seems like they may have pivoted just in time.)

Guesty started as SuperHost and, like Airbnb, went through the Y-Combinator accelerator. It eventually rebranded to Guesty, and it now provides tools in a dozen areas that touch property managers and the job they do: Channel Manager (“channel” being the platform where the property is being listed), Multi-Calendar, Unified Inbox, Automation Tools, Mobile Management App, Branded Website Task Management, Reporting Tools, Owners Portal, Payment Processing, Analytics, Open API, 24/7 Guest Communication.

The plan is to complement that in coming years with more “smart” tools: the company is introducing AI and machine learning elements that will help it suggest more services to users, and for managers to use to do their jobs better. (One example of how this might work: if you have a property manager in New York City, and the city regulator changes something in the tax code for properties in Brooklyn, this will now be suggested through to managers whose properties are affected, and this can help with pricing modelling down the line if the manager, say, wanted to keep a specific margin on rentals.)

Perhaps because short-term property renting is a relatively new area of the accommodation and residential market, it’s fairly fragmented, and so Guesty is providing a clear move to consolidate and simplify some of that work.

“There are about 700 different services and other things that go into short-term property rentals,” Soto noted when I asked him about this. “It would take me hours to go through it all with you.”

And indeed, the market itself is much bigger than what Guesty is currently working with. Soto estimates that there are around 7 million properties now collectively getting listed on these short-term letting platforms, speaking to the opportunity ahead.

Guesty very much got its start with Airbnb and that helped it not only establish what property managers needed, but also to forge a close relationship with Airbnb at a time when it wasn’t yet building many bridges to third-party services. Soto said Guesty built its own private API to use with Airbnb, and subsequently helped inform how Airbnb eventually build an API that others could use.

It’s still a trusted partner in that regard. Now that Airbnb is moving into multi-dwelling arrangements — that is, rooms in hotels (which will now expand with its HotelTonight acquisition), plus multiple apartments in single buildings for big groups that might want to secure bookings at several places at once — it will very soon be launching a tool for these kinds of listings. Guesty has helped in the building of that, too.

Still, the opportunity for short-term lettings is bigger than Airbnb itself these days. Booking.com and its many subsidiary businesses have made a big move into this area, as have many other companies, and Guesty now handles bookings on a number of “channels”. Soto said on average, the number of bookings on its platform that are listing on Airbnb is 60 percent, with some vacation spots seeing the percentage much lower, and some urban markets seeing a much higher penetration.

This is one of those cases where being an early mover in identifying a market opportunity has worked in a startup’s favor. Guesty’s strong work with Airbnb has helped the startup build stronger ties with those companies that hope to compete with it and give Airbnb a run for its money: Booking.com, Soto notes, is a premier partner these days.

“Guesty was the first to recognize the potential of the property management market and has quickly become a category leader with its vertical-oriented, end-to-end approach,” said Natalie Refuah, partner at Viola Growth, in a statement. “Technology and AI continue to disrupt the innovation stack, acting as a catalyst to the digitization of “traditional” areas such as real estate and travel. Guesty is leading the charge, fostering a more seamless experience for property managers while providing clear advantages to customers and ultimately, their guests. We believe that with its experienced and elite executive team, Guesty is fully equipped to modernize and revolutionize the property management ecosystem.” Refuah is joining Guesty’s Board of Directors.