Brazilian travel start-up Hotel Urbano draws $50 million investment round
Finding venture capital funding has not been easy for Brazilian start-ups because of recent economic turbulence.
Yet Hotel Urbano, one of Brazil’s fastest-growing marketplaces for online travel, has successfully attracted prominent US investors to secure $50 million in its latest round of funding, the company confirmed to Tnooz that it would announce soon.
The process assumed a $450 million valuation of the company.
CEO João Ricardo Mendes has a goal of more than doubling the company’s value to $1 billion this year.
Toward that end, the company plans to use the investment to double its number of employees to 800. Chief marketing officer Roberta Antunes will boost its marketing spend by 150% of 2013’s $51 million.
A meteoric rise
Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Hotel Urbano is an online travel agency (OTA) that debuted in 2011.
It haggles discounts from travel suppliers for unsold hotel rooms and vacation packages worldwide — though its strongest inventory is in Brazil and Latin America.
Unlike many OTAs, it has opened a couple of bricks-and-mortar retail stores to appeal to local customer preferences in Brazil.
In 2013 Hotel Urbano had a gross revenue of a bit more than $200 million, while the market for online travel in Brazil was estimated to be $7.5 billion.
Not yet profitable, the company has grown rapidly in three years, partly thanks to its savvy use of social media, it says.
Its Facebook page has drawn 9.9 million fans, which may be largest of any travel brand. More than 100,000 people use its Facebook app.
Insight invested $20 million in the company last summer. It is not commenting on the topic of the latest round.
Tiger Global Management has been described by the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog as a fund that “often backs companies headed for the public markets.”
While there may be short-term clouds over Brazil’s economy, the long-term outlook appears to be as sunny as the country’s beaches in summertime — at least for one Brazilian start-up in particular.
Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.