[Credit: Wander]

Wander secures investment for Australia expansion

Australia: Luxury off-grid pod accommodation startup Wander has secured an investment from former Airbnb country manager Sam McDonagh in order to expand its presence in regional and rural Australia.

The company has been raising funding via an equity crowdfunding campaign on Birchal, with almost $600,000 already being pledged so far, although McDonagh’s total investment has not been disclosed. McDonagh, who previously oversaw Airbnb’s operations in Australia and New Zealand between 2014 and 2019, is now managing director of swimming pool sharing startup Swimply, will take on an advisory role at Wander, according to SmartCompany.

Wander plans to utilise the investment to expand into locations such as the Grampians, Snowy Mountains and Flinders Ranges. It already offers off-grid accommodations in the Scenic Rim, Queensland Mununjali Country, and Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Karta Pintingga.

Founded in 2019, Wander designs, installs and manages ‘WanderPods’ by leasing private and public land and operating under a revenue-share model.

While the pods themselves include luxury amenities such as king-sized beds, kitchens and outside bath tubs, Wander’s priority focus is on impacting the environment and local economy in a positive way, as well as those living in the destination.

Each WanderPods is:

  • Off-grid, featuring solar and water harvesting and storage and greywater recycling
  • Diverting organic waste from landfill with Subpod compost bins
  • Prefabricated to a high standard of energy efficiency
  • Aiming for a zero-waste system by restricting the use of single-use packaging, recycling and composting
  • Supporting the work of Bush Heritage Australia as it protects and regenerates bushland

Wander founder Cassandra Sasso told SmartCompany: “Sam’s investment came out of nowhere, so discovering his vast industry experience was a major vote of confidence in Wander’s business model. Sam has lived and breathed short-term accommodation, so he appreciates where the future of travel is heading.”

McDonagh said in a statement: “Travellers and guests are looking for authentic and unique experiences, with Wander they get that and luxury. The most in-demand properties were always unique and allowed guests to connect with our spectacular landscape. Wander delivers these attributes in spades.”

Sasso won the Innovator / Disruptor Award at the 2022 Shortyz Awards last May and was also interviewed on the ShortTermRentalz podcast.

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