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Frontdesk Raises $7 Million for Short-Term Rentals: 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 if you have funding news.

This week, travel startups announced more than $60 million in funding.

>>Hopin, a virtual events unicorn, raised $450 million in Series D funding, co-led by Arena Holdings and Altimeter Capital. Get the details at Event MB.

>>VNlife, the Vietnam-based parent firm of VNpay (a QR code payment network), has raised more than $250 million in a Series B funding round.

This funding, led by General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group, will benefit the startup’s subsidiary unit VNTourism, which runs a fast-growing domestic online travel group, VNTravel.

This online unit has served more than five million customers so far across brands such as MyTour. Its Tripi brand offers technology to travel agencies. The startup also runs Vietnam Airlines’ mobile app.

>>Aviasales, a travel price comparison search site that has been focused on Russian-speaking travelers, raised $43 million.

Private equity firm Elbrus Capital and venture firm iTech Capital made the investment. See Skift’s story.

>>Frontdesk, a next-generation short-term rental brand, closed a $7 million venture round of funding.

Stormbreaker Ventures led the round. This latest funding brings the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based startup to $18 million in total funding.

“The influx of capital will drive further growth to both our management and our technology businesses, fulfilling the demand that is in our lap with short-term stays now exceeding pre-pandemic numbers,” said Kyle Weatherly, co-founder and CEO at Frontdesk.

The company operates more than 700 fully managed suites in 160 buildings across 35 U.S. cities. It has more than 250 workers. Frontdesk expects to double its portfolio in 2021 while also turning profitable in 2022.

“Not only has Frontdesk succeeded in achieving rapid scale, but they have done so in a way that is 5 to 10 times more capital-efficient than their peers, showing vastly superior underlying unit economics,” said Stormbreaker Ventures’ Managing Partner Said Mia.

“Sonder, for example, required 35 times more capital to achieve only eight times Frontdesk’s scale,” according to Mia.

Frontdesk also plans to invest more in its software business, Frontdesk Flex, which serves professional short-term rental property managers with tools, such as a property management system, a direct booking engine, and a dynamic pricing algorithm.

As of May, Frontdesk apartment suites can now be booked via Homes & Villas by Marriott International.

>>Elude, a travel discovery and booking app, has disclosed that it has raised $2.1 million in funding.

Mucker Capital, Unicorn Ventures, Upfront Scout Fund, StartupO, Grayson Capital, and Flight VC have invested.

The Los Angeles-based startup said it’s “the only travel discovery and booking platform that allows anyone to plan trips in line with their budget, instead of location or price.”

The app for Apple devices offers a “spontaneous budget-first travel search engine that offers access to global flights and accommodations” and includes “curated trip packages and future trip suggestions based on customers’ preferences and interests.”

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 short-term rental apartment for travelers available for booking and run by Frontdesk, a startup based in Milwaukee. Frontdesk

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