Unyoked secures undisclosed amount in fresh funding
Australia: “Wilderness experience” company Unyoked, which lists cabins in rural destinations, has raised an undisclosed amount in new funding from investors including Real Tech Ventures and Luxury Escapes co-founder Adam Schwab.
The company, which had previously raised A$1.2 million [US$900,000] in a number of funding rounds since its founding in 2017, manages 30 “tiny” mobile cabins in rural locations typically within two hours of major Australian cities. They are built on local, sustainable materials, run 100 per cent off-grid with solar power, and also feature a small kitchen, bathroom with shower, outdoor chairs and hammocks.
Unyoked’s concept has been pioneered to offer short-term “eco-friendly, regional micro-adventures” principally to young people seeking out unique, even “hipster”, experiences a short distance away from the cities they live in.
Unyoked’s twin brother co-founders, Cam and Chris Grant, revealed to Business Insider Australia that the company’s cabins had a 100 per cent occupancy rate with thousands on its waiting list, and that it had sustained the rate at around 95 per cent when the pandemic restrictions were first lifted.
Though the brothers admitted they did not see Unyoked as a “cabin rental company” per se, they believe they have created a “new category” of accommodation that retains a type of “wilderness vibe” somewhere in the middle of farm stays, luxury regional Airbnb glamping pods and traditional camping.
This, they say, has been achieved by harnessing their strong following on social media platform Instagram, on which Unyoked has attracted more than 62,000 followers, and caters specifically to the needs and preferences of millennial / Gen Z travellers, as well as digital nomads.
Each property is assessed for its sustainability and safety credentials, however only around a quarter of the Unyoked cabins has phone coverage, allowing digital nomads to escape their relentless working routines, switch off and “work smarter with a more healthy attitude”.
The Grant brothers told Business Insider Australia: ‘We’re trying to get people to see and use the outdoors like they do the gym. Those benefits of nature, they’ve been scientifically proven around the world to improve your happiness, your wellbeing,” Grant says.
Their emphasis on promoting mindfulness as a deep-rooted lifestyle choice is central to the company’s mission.
They said: “It’s sort of breaking down the barriers; making it easier for people to understand the benefits and start adopting meditation practices. We’re trying to do that for the outdoors.
“You don’t have to go hiking, you don’t have to go camping for five days; you can literally drive one hour and feel those benefits on any day of the week,” they added.
Unyoked identified its own niche before the pandemic but the brothers suggested that Covid-enforced lockdowns accelerated shifts towards more nature-based experiences, thereby expanding the market beyond urban locations.
They said: “Something that Covid has changed for the positive [are] those attitudes and that culture about looking after ourselves and working differently. It’s helping us spread this message about what we’re trying to do.
“It facilitates the experience that people are trying to have; we want to build a business that’s more like Patagonia and less like Airbnb. That’s our philosophy,” they added.
Unyoked is set to expand into more locations across Tasmania and South Australia by the end of the year and demand continues to exceed supply, with vacancies limited to close to three months in advance.
Following the recent news that the Australian government had launched a A$1.2 billion support package for tourism businesses, Unyoked looks set to benefit from heightened interest for nature-based, regional experiences as the country continues its post-pandemic recovery.
That is on top of ShortTermRentalz’ prediction in December 2020 that the collective desire for privacy, seclusion and ‘micro-adventures’ beyond typical tourist destinations would persuade renegades and road trippers to turn to tiny homes and mobile homes as their accommodation of choice in 2021.
Unyoked also operates a similar concept to US-based tiny cabin rental startup Getaway, which secured $41.7 million in a Series C raise led by private investment firm Certares for its “outdoor and wellness focused” offering in February.