The Host Co. raises $1.85m in seed funding round

US: The Host Co., a digital commerce marketplace for short-term rentals, has announced an oversubscribed $1.85 million seed funding round.

The round was led by HearstLab, with participation from The Artemis Fund and Untapped Capital, as well as a number of other angel investors.

The Host Co. provides access to retail, pre-order services and a curated selection of local vendors to enhance the short-term rental experience with added value.

Co-founder Annie Sloan said: “We are currently helping short-term rental hosts curate a value-add experience for their guests and make more money from every booking. Demand for our technology is accelerating at a rapid pace, and we now have a waiting list of over 1,100 additional hosts.

“This investment will enable us to scale and expand our logistical capabilities, partner with more short-term rental hosts, and further enhance the guest experience,” she added.

Based in California, The Host Co. enables hosts to create an online store [similar to Etsy] to sell anything in their property – ranging from food and drink to artwork or artisan products – and guests can make purchases at any time before or during their stay. Items may be stocked in the properties themselves, rented, delivered and offered at a discounted rate for a nearby pickup, or be purchased to be delivered straight to the guest’s home, thereby allowing The Host Co. to make a commission on each sale.

Its technology applies not only to short-term rentals but also to boutique hotels, swimming pools, office spaces and aeroplanes.

Co-founder Mikel Hubbard said: “We believe we have developed the right technology in perfect timing. On the heels of an incredible year for Airbnb, the short-term rental industry is exploding with tens of thousands of new hosts gearing up every month, primarily women looking to maximise their profits.

“Our mission is to empower hosts to achieve positive financial and social mobility through the platform,” he added.

With the majority of short-term rental hosts being female and over the age of 40 worldwide, The Host Co. is particularly keen to allow this demographic to supplement their family income by selling items on top of renting out their spaces. According to the company, over 40 per cent of guests purchase an item when they stay in a short-term rental with a Host Co. store and over 90 per cent of guests open the store.

Eve Burton, chairwoman of HearstLab, said: “We are excited to partner with The Host Co.’s visionary leadership team as they are successfully reimagining how short-term rentals should work. Short-term rentals have gone mainstream and now cater to an increased user base that expects the comfort and privacy of a home coupled with hotel-like amenities.

“The Host Co.’s digital commerce platform is a transformative solution that will allow guests to have more meaningful experiences and short-term rental hosts to grow their businesses. We believe that The Host Co. is fully equipped to revolutionise the short-term rental ecosystem,” she added.

Diana Murakhovskaya, general partner and co-founder at The Artemis Fund, said: “We are proud to back and partner with The Host Co.. At Artemis, we love the mission of companies that are intentionally designing for prosperity for many.

“Providing another income stream to hosts is incredibly compelling especially as women constitute 56 per cent of hosts and the fastest growing host demographic is seniors,” she added.

In ShortTermRentalz’ predictions piece for 2022 in December, we predicted that value-added services would become more commonplace within short-term rental offerings and professionalise the guest experience.