HiBnb raises CAD $500k in pre-seed funding

Canada: Toronto-based startup HiBnb, which specialises in helping travellers find cannabis-friendly accommodations, has raised CAD $500,000 [USD $393,000] in pre-seed funding to continue its expansion across North America.

The platform provides advanced search features, allowing guests to filter down their searches based on accessories, such as rolling stations or tabletop vaporisers, and smoking rules e.g. anywhere on-premises, designated smoking rooms, outdoor balcony only.

In doing so, HiBnb is tapping into a market worth over CAD $1 billion, following the Canadian government’s passing of legislation – the Cannabis Act – to legalise recreational marijuana in the country in 2018. According to government data, ten million packaged units of cannabis were sold in the country in October last year for non-medical purposes.

Canada was only the second country in the world to legalise the use of recreational cannabis, after Uruguay back in 2013, although a number of US states have legalised its use within their own borders. Mexico, meanwhile, is edging closer to becoming the third and largest legal cannabis market in the world, as lawmakers in the country’s Chamber of Deputies prepare to debate a proposal on the topic of legalisation this week.

Ahead of its official launch, HiBnb is operating in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, and is rapidly expanding in Calgary.

Elizabeth Becker, founder and CEO of HiBnb, said in a statement: “We are really excited to have closed this round of funding. Now we have the backing that we need to execute our business plan from a position of strength, to make sure that our technology is strong and that we can reach people with real marketing dollars behind us.

“Especially now when it is so timely, with such a shift towards cannabis in Canada, I feel like the pitch is coming, I’m standing at home plate, and I just got outfitted with the top of the line aluminium bat! I’m proud to announce that we got what we need to hit the home run!” she added.

The startup not only provides accommodation listings, but also lists “canna-friendly” events, ranging from belly dance boot camps to artisanal bubble hash workshops, yoga classes and poker night events.

Becker, who has previously worked in the film and television industries and called for fair cannabis legislation, was supported in the pre-seed round by Kelly Ehler, a director on the board of Slang, a cannabis company focused on acquiring and developing and creating leading brands. Ehler has built up a wealth of experience in leadership roles in various industries, from debt financing to due diligence, acquisitions and dispositions, and more.

In an interview with Prosperi Press, Becker credited accelerators including Femmebought, the 51 and the Wave Accelerator Programme for accelerating the growth of women-owned / led enterprises an driving her on to found HiBnb.

HiBnb is planning its official launch in Canada by the end of April and is aiming to be operating in the United States by the end of the year. Beyond that, the online marketplace and hospitality service brokerage wants to be a leader in canna-tourism on its path to becoming a public traded company.