RV Glamping Company Cabana raises $ 10 million – Skift
Cabana, a mobile hotel startup (think: glamping on wheels), said on Tuesday it had raised $ 10 million, which may seem like a small sum, but is further evidence of investor intrigue in new ideas. outdoor travel.
Craft Ventures and Goldcrest Capital led the Series A round. Danish venture capital firm Nordic Eye also participated.
Seattle-based Cabana has already raised $ 3.5 million in seed funding. Its investors include Jason Calacanis, who is both a serial entrepreneur who created Silicon Alley Reporter and Weblogs Inc., and an early-stage serial investor in companies such as Uber and Paul English, the co-founder of the Kayak travel search engine and business travel startup Lola.
“We will use the funds to build our technology platform, continue to improve the design of our vehicles and move to a four-passenger van from the current model,” said Cabana co-founder and CEO Scott Kubly.
Cabana designs motorhomes that it rents. He designs the vehicles to avoid the problems inexperienced RV rental companies hate – by striving to combine hotel-like amenities with the convenience of car sharing. The company also uses software to facilitate planning and logistics for travelers.
A boom in interest in motorhomes and motorhomes
The startup is riding a wave of interest in the outdoor travel industry, especially motorhome rentals. Social media popularized the trend with the hashtag #vanlife, and the pandemic spurred the trend as people spent more time outdoors and away from crowds inside the country.
The buzz has helped Cabana, who is an avid Instagram marketing user. About 95% of its bookings come directly from its website and mobile app, Kubly said. The company puts its brand image on its vehicles, which also contributes to word of mouth.
Yet despite the growing interest in motorhomes, some skeptics have questioned whether the high-end segment of the motorhome rental market could change.
Kubly, a former senior executive with electric scooter sharing service Lime, believes the best analogy for Cabana is Uber – which expanded the total revenue market originally created by traditional taxis by making pick-up a lot easier.
According to one estimate, only one in 200 Americans has rented an RV. So a simpler system could meet demand from people who have been too intimidated to try motorhomes so far, according to Kubly. Since the company’s inception in 2019, around 70% of Cabana customers have been first-time RV renters or users, and 27% have used an RV once or twice.
“We put a comfy bed wherever you want it, whether it’s at the start of a trail, at a pop-up music festival, or a corporate team-building event,” Kubly said. “If the hotels run out of space at a major event like a Big Ten basketball game or the Super Bowl, you can park nearby in an RV. We can add hosting offer to any location in a flexible and dynamic way. It makes us a much bigger opportunity.
Cabana only served a few US markets, controlling hardware, customer service, sales, and marketing.
The company tackled common pain points. For example, she has modular cooking in her custom vans, allowing her team to swap kitchen items for cleaning between rentals. The company has also designed its vans with space for luggage, and it has splurged on the bathroom, which is often a hindrance for new tenants using traditional vehicles.
The company also tried to simplify travel planning. Tenants complete a five-minute online questionnaire and the company provides a route to follow.
In the past year, the company reportedly operated 25 vehicles with an average occupancy rate of 75% and net margins of around 28%.
Over time, Kubly and his co-founder Jonathan Savage want to move the business to a model closer to a franchise model, where he finds local owner-operators to help it grow.
The highlight of outdoor travel
Cabana faces modest competition from players with overlapping services.
Perhaps the biggest is AutoCamp, a startup that raised $ 115 million in 2019 and offers premium resorts in a handful of US locations, such as the Russian River Valley and Yosemite National Park in California.
AutoCamp customers stay in Airstreams or luxury tents, and the startup takes care of the details, such as providing sheets with a high thread count. Public restrooms in the resort area usually look more like hotels than camps, for example.
Investors have also invested money in other adventure and outdoor recreation ventures. Earlier this year, Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer marketplace for motorhome rentals, closed an unheard-of monitoring round after raising $ 50 million in 2019.
In March, Harvest Hosts, a membership program for recreational vehicle or recreational vehicle owners in North America, raised $ 37 million from private investor Stripes. Last year RVshare, an RV rental market, raised more than $ 100 million in a round led by KKR.
Unsurprisingly, Kubly said these markets are not real competitors.
“Renting a motorhome or motorhome is a fringe activity for a lot of people because it’s so complicated,” Kubly said. “If you look at some of the peer-to-peer markets, you see variability in the quality of supply, which can be frustrating for consumers. “
Unsurprisingly, Kubly argued that there are barriers to entry of other entrepreneurs and direct competition. He said that all of the components Cabana builds, such as vehicle design, fleet financing and operational efficiency, all require solid execution that creates a wedge that protects the company from new entrants.
A possible headwind, however, is a backlash to the “gentrification” of the RV and RV segment by the middle and upper classes. The trend has sparked clashes with longtime RVers who have rented or owned RVs for vacations for years. The diehards often roll their eyes at newbies.
But Kubly said the two segments are different and can be marketed and served differently.
“We are not a motorhome company,” Kubly said. “We are an experience travel company.”
Photo credit: One of Cabana’s recreational vehicles. The Seattle-based travel startup has raised $ 10 million in funding for hotel-style recreational vehicle rentals, or RVs. Hut