Van rental startup Cabana raises $10m in Series A funding

US: ‘Mobile hotel’ and van rental startup, Cabana, has announced that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding, in a round led by Craft Ventures and Goldcrest Capital.

Launch, Gaingels, Castor Ventures, Danish private equity firm Nordic Eye and a number of angel investors and syndicates also participated in the round. The investors include Jason Calacanis, one of the creators behind Silicon Alley Reporter and Weblogs Inc., and an early-stage backer of Uber, and Paul English, who co-founded travel search engine Kayak and business travel startup Lola.

The startup aims to use the funding to grow its current 35-strong, two-person travel van fleet to more than 250 by this time next year, as well as build out its tech team and develop its concierge and travel planning teams. Cabana is also in the process of expanding into new markets and developing a four-person travel van to enhance its offerings.

Based in Seattle and also available in Los Angeles, Cabana launched in 2019 before securing $3.5 million in a seed funding round led by Craft Ventures last May. In that time, the startup has accumulated close to 7,000 nights booked in one year and bookings have surged by 400 per cent since January, according to CEO and co-founder, Scott Kubly.

Cabana’s vans are designed to combine hotel-style amenities and the convenience of car sharing, in order to address common pain points felt by less experienced RV or camper van rentals. These typically include a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen area, as well as features such as a TV, baggage space heating and cooling facilities, and a shower.

The company expanded its offerings in January of this year, by launching a series of new features, ranging from concierge services to provide trip planning assistance for customers; van delivery to make starting a trip even more convenient; early check-in and late check-out to provide more flexibility in travel plans; and one-way rental options for travellers with itineraries that do not accommodate a two-way trip.

Given the estimates that only one in 200 Americans have rented an RV, and that around 70 per cent of Cabana’s guests had never rented an RV or camper van, the startup is well positioned to capitalise on the unprecedented interest in the outdoors travel sector, fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic which has driven people to consider more domestic trips and work and live more nomadically than ever before.

Kubly adds that around 95 per cent of Cabana’s bookings go directly through its website and mobile app, indicating that the company is riding the same crest of the wave as similar marketplaces in the space.

In October, peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace RVshare raised more than $100 million in a funding round led by global investment firm KKR, with participation by existing investor Tritium Partners, which was followed by a $23 million raise by RVezy in May, with backing from the founder of Canadian online dating app Plenty of Fish, Markus Frind.

Similarly, marketplaces such as Hipcamp and AutoCamp, which offer tent camping, cabin, glamping, RV park and treehouse listings between them, have each secured significant funding in the last two years.