Wander launches and secures $7m in funding

US: Texas-based smart home rental platform Wander has launched and secured $7 million in an initial funding round.

The funding round was led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from AuthenticVentures and other angel investors.

The startup, which aims to empower remote workers to turn their workstation into an “unforgettable travel experience”, intends to use the investment to continue expanding its platform and its selection of homes.

Wander is initially launching with a portfolio focused on the western United States, including properties in locations such as Lake Tahoe and Mendocino County, California, and Bandon Dunes and Port Orford, Oregon, however founder John Andrew Entwistle has already shared his ambitions to expand the business internationally.

After stepping down as CEO of his previous startup Coder earlier this year, Entwistle launched Wander to allow people to travel and work from unique locations, as well as provide a consistent and reliable end-to-end customer experience, following his own previous negative experience renting a cabin in Colorado.

Entwistle said: “This is the first time in human history where many can live and work anywhere. Yet when we try to escape, we end up crouched over a coffee table, in a house that doesn’t look like the photos, with wifi that barely works.

“We believe when you control the bits and the atoms, you have the ability to iterate towards perfection and an opportunity to build a lasting company,” he added.

The Wander mobile app allows guests to search destinations, book their trip and carry out a range of smart home operations, from unlocking the door to turning on the fireplace and adjusting the lights. The smart homes that are owned and operated by the startup also come equipped with their own Tesla electric car.

In the eyes of many industry experts, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated remote working trends and blurred the lines between business and leisure travel as a result.

As more and more citizens head to rural open spaces in search of a getaway after lockdowns, investment has ramped up in the outdoor, nature-based accommodation space this year. The likes of Raus, Wildpoint, The Dyrt, Collective Retreats, Unyoked, Getaway and Hipcamp have been beneficiaries of this shift.

Alex Bard, managing director at Redpoint Ventures, said: “Since the onset of the pandemic we’ve seen one of the greatest shifts ever in how people live and work, but the physical world hasn’t caught up yet. It’s in these shifts that transformational companies are born.”

Wander CMO Kyle Tibbitts said: “Those of us working remotely have tasted freedom from long commutes and being stuck in an office, but the freedom to explore the world while staying connected to our work remains elusive. Wander is offering people an entirely new way to bring life and work together.”

After having its first guest stay at one of its properties earlier this month, Wander is encouraging users to join a waitlist on its website to reserve a stay. They can also pay $100 to become founding members, which gives them a $100 credit towards their first stay and will allow them to potentially participate in Wander’s next funding round.