Casai to invest R$100m in Brazil expansion

Brazil: Mexican proptech startup Casai has announced that, as part of its ongoing expansion in Latin America [LatAm], it will launch operations in São Paulo and invest R$100 million [Brazilian reales] over the coming years in its growth strategy in Brazil.

The move represents Casai’s entrance into the Brazilian market and first international market launch since its founding back in 2020.

Nico Barawid, CEO and co-founder of Casai, who was recently shortlisted for Rising Star at the 2021 Shortyz Awards, told Istoe Dinheiro: “Casai was created as a technology company driven by a necessary change in the hospitality industry. Innovation has always been part of our DNA and, with the arrival of the pandemic, we seek to develop features that allow our guests to have the best experience possible, but with less risk.”

Casai raised $48 million in a Series A round as recently as October, which included $23 million in equity funding and up to $25 million in debt financing from TriplePoint Capital.

The equity funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participating investors, Cultural Leadership Fund, Kaszek Ventures, Monashees Capital, Global Founders Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Tom Stafford, also contributing to bring Casai’s total funding to $53 million raised following a $5 million seed. The most recent round was the largest Series A raised by a company in Mexico and was one of the largest ever in Latin America.

Casai’s expansion into Brazil and new destinations in Mexico, including Tulum and Puerto Vallarta through the recently-launched  Getaways by Casai product, takes the startup’s footprint up to more than 300 intelligent spaces across Latin America. It is aiming to grow the number of units offered through the Getaways product to 500 properties by the end of the year.

At the time of its launch, the startup set out its goal to build a “new vision for hospitality in Latin America” and set a “high standard of excellence with luxurious amenities, stunning locally-sourced design and sophisticated smart technology”. The idea behind this was to create something of a middle ground between a hotel and an Airbnb apartment, providing the suitable flexibility for young professionals and digital nomads, but not compromising on quality standards or amenities either.

Each intelligent Casai unit offers keyless check-in, Chromecast-powered TVs, and high-speed wifi that can all be controlled through the company’s app, and it has also partnered with Loopkey to integrate new smart lock technology with Casai’s proprietary technology and smart hardware hub, Butler.

Casai has also announced it is partnering with WeWork to offer benefits and spaces for guests to work remotely, and collaborations with local partners to improve the in-apartment guest experience, deliver food, and provide eco-friendly, high-quality amenities.

To facilitate the proptech’s expansion, Casai has announced the appointment of Luiz Eduardo Mazetto as its country manager for Brazil, who will lead the 30-strong team in the country.

Mazetto said: “We are concerned with sustainable tourism development designed to support the community. Local immersion is a very important concept for Casai, as we want our guests to feel at home wherever they are.

“São Paulo is one of the most important metropolises in Latin America. We want to offer a differentiated experience in accommodation, in line with the high standard of services that such a cosmopolitan city requires,” he added.

Casai’s growth has been all the more notable given the backdrop of the global pandemic. The company has grown almost three times since the start of the pandemic, and, over the past six months alone, it claims to have increased its total units by 30 per cent and revenue by 150 per cent, and retained occupancy rates of more than 90 per cent.

It follows last week’s announcement that The World Travel and Tourism Council [WTTC] will be investing $2.5 billion in Mexico’s tourism industry, which has been particularly heavily impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic. The announcement was made by organisation president Christopher J. Nasseta at the twentieth WTTC summit in Cancún, and under the proposed plans, 100,000 jobs would be generated in the the country’s tourism industry.