Bob W raises €10m in seed funding and expanding into the UK

08 April 2021

Finnish company Bob W, the tech-driven hospitality provider offering a "smarter and more sustainable alternative" to hotels and short-stay rentals, has secured €10 million of seed funding.

Throughout the pandemic, the company has continued to expand as their contactless apartments have seen occupancy rates three times higher than hotels.

The first tranche of the seed round – which garnered €4 million of funding last year – was extended, and an additional €6 million majority equity was raised recently.

The funding comes as a vote of confidence in Bob W’s concept: tech-powered short-stay apartments that combine hotel-like quality with the authenticity of individual rentals.
The funds will mainly be invested in developing their full-stack tech platform, growing the team and expanding in existing and new markets across Europe.

Niko Karstikko, CEO and co-founder comments: “We will use the funds to scale our autonomous hospitality tech, create a new industry benchmark for digital experience, and launch in other European metropoles beyond Finland and Estonia, where we currently operate.”

The investment round was led by byFounders VC and private equity outfit Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi). Other top European real estate and venture capitalist investors include Kaamos, Superangel, United Angels and NREP through its 2150 investment wing, which just launched with 200 million euros to back sustainable urban technologies.

3x better occupancy than hotels
As the hospitality sector at large has suffered greatly from the reduced demand for accommodation, Bob W has reached occupancy rates as high as 90% at its existing properties in Estonia and Finland. This owes, in part, to the company’s ability to serve both business and leisure travellers for long and short stays as well as their “Ridiculously Clean Standard”, which exceeds WHO recommendations.

“Despite the pandemic, our revenue grew significantly in 2020 and our occupancy was three times that of hotels. We serviced thousands of guests and hundreds of companies. Our customer satisfaction is high as evidenced by our 93 NPS compared to the average of 37 for hotels. Last year, we also launched our own tech platform and grew our team from six employees to 30. We expect to double that by the summer,” Karstikko outlines.

Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, chairman and co-founder of NREP and partner at the 2150 VC fund, adds:
"Bob W is an example of entrepreneurs who are transforming the accommodation sector by combining a deep understanding of changing customer needs with intelligent technology solutions into a compelling new product offering.”

Bob W has also secured its first apartments in London, including a low-carbon, zero fossil-fuel, stand-alone building opening in winter 2021-2022. Bob W is also opening multiple properties in Nordic markets, including its newest property in central Helsinki this spring, which was secured together with Sponda, the Finnish arm of The Blackstone Group.

Thanks to technology and careful attention to detail, Bob W gives guests a seamless five-star experience without meeting them face-to-face: something that has appealed to travellers during the pandemic. The company’s full-stack tech platform – including their app, chat-based customer service, contactless online check-in, and autonomous operations – not only minimises human error but also allows the company to craft the entire guest experience, from booking to check-out, at scale.

“Our guests love the local authenticity that comes to life in our apartments. For example, we source at least half our décor from local brands, artists and manufacturers, much of which is also produced within a few hundred kilometres of each property. We do this to give guests an authentic experience, but to also be kind to the planet,” Karstikko explains.

Bob’s apartments cater to the 21st-century traveller who wants it all: the consistent quality of a hotel and the authentic flair and affordability of a short-stay rental.

Bob W is expanding into the UK after securing its first apartments in London, including a low-carbon, zero fossil-fuel, stand-alone building which will open in next winter [late 2021 / early 2022].

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