The Paris-based travel tech platform Leavy.co has disclosed a seed funding round that earned $14m earlier this year, according to TechCrunch. The company says it’s the most seed funding ever earned in a round by a travel tech startup.
The platform allows travelers to rent out their home while away, and is geared toward millennials who value travel, but are often limited financially. While these members are away, other users are paid to act as hosts that manage the booking and act as local guides for renters. Travelers receive guaranteed cash upfront, which can be used to fund their trip, whether or not their home is booked. The amount paid varies, based on how far in advance a home is made available for bookings, along with other factors.
The platform, which bills itself as a “travel community and marketplace,” depends on its ability to connect users with different needs, including what they call “Happy Leaver” travelers, “Hosts on Demand,” and “City Explorer” visitors.
Founder and CEO Aziza Chaouachi said:
“Travel no longer means heading off to the Canary Islands for a week. It’s visiting your family for the weekend when you are studying abroad, or heading off to Barcelona for that sunny summer job. Leavy.co is about helping our members live the lives they want in a meaningful way, no matter where they are from, who they are or their budget.”
Chaouachi founded the startup in 2017, and was soon joined by co-founders Yassine Ben Romdhane and Mario Moinet.
By paying travelers upfront, the platform takes a financial risk on behalf of its users, unlike other similar marketplace platforms. The success of the model will depend on its algorithm’s ability to rent out spaces once they’re offered, and to find price points that work for renters, guests, and hosts.
Chaouachi told TechCrunch:
“We are the first pure-scale marketplace that takes a risk for its users. As network orchestrators, we generate profit with dynamic pricing. Our tech is obsessed with finding the optimal point of satisfaction for every user.”
Their platform now includes 65,000 members, with 100 employees in offices in Paris, London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Rome. They’re aiming to expand to the US by the end of the year.
The funding round closed in January, and is first being disclosed now. It was led by Prime Ventures, with participation from Index Ventures partner Dominique Vidal.
Photo by Joseph Plotz [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]