Startups

Mexico City-based Hospitality Startup Casai Raises $48M

Mexico-based hospitality startup Casai has landed $48 million for its Series A round, the company announced Wednesday.

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Casai, which draws its name from “Casa Intelligente,” or “smart home,” was born out of co-founder and CEO Nico Barawid’s frustration of having to choose between a hotel and an Airbnb rental that often wasn’t up to standard. 

When Barawid was running international expansion at Nova Credit, he traveled frequently and stayed at Airbnb rentals, a more economical option than expensive hotels. But he was often let down by the accommodations, like an instance in Bangkok when the Airbnb did not have Wi-Fi–a necessity for a work trip.

“As a result of this dichotomy of choosing between hotels and Airbnbs, I became obsessed with finding a better way to travel,” Barawid said.

The idea behind Casai is that travelers get luxury amenities, locally sourced designs for apartments, and high-tech features throughout the unit, such as keyless check in and smart home devices. Casai doesn’t own the units, but makes arrangements with landlords (often revenue-sharing models), and the units are exclusive to Casai.

Travel and hospitality has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at the beginning. Prior to the pandemic, Casai had 100 percent occupancy, but has now rebounded to around 80 percent to 90 percent occupancy for its units, Barawid said.

Casai has nearly 200 units in Mexico City, and is exploring expanding into other areas of Mexico and into Brazil. With uncertainty around Mexico’s borders, the company is seeing a resurgence in domestic travel, which is why it’s exploring expanding into other parts of Mexico.

The new funding will be used to invest in research and development for the company’s smart home technology and to expand the team.

The Series A includes $23 million in equity funding and up to $25 million in debt financing from TriplePoint Capital, according to a statement from the company. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, with participation from a16z’s Cultural Leadership Fund, Kaszek Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Monashees Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, and DST Global managing partner Tom Stafford. The founders of startups including Nova Credit, Kavak, Loft and Runa also participated in the round.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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