Seattle-based travel tech startup Cabana raises $10M in Series A funding to turns vans into bookable mobile hotels
For 14 months, the travel industry was decimated as billions were on lockdown and confined to their homes due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to vaccines, the travel industry is slowly returning back to normal and millions of Americans are beginning to travel to their favorite travel destinations and there’s now an increase in demand for travel-related services.
These demands are not only felt among travel giants like Booking.com and Expedia Group but also among travel tech startups providing innovative and great traveling experiences for customers. One of these startups is Cabana, a Seattle, Washinton-based travel tech startup that is reinventing how modern travelers get out and explore through its luxe mobile hotel experience.
Today, Cabana announced it has closed $10 million in Series A financing co-led by Craft Ventures and Goldcrest Capital alongside Launch, Castor Ventures, Gaingels, Nordic Eye, and other strategic angels and syndicates. This round brings the company’s total funding to date to $15 million.
Founded in 2019 by Scott Kubly, Cabana opens up the flexibility of travel plans so that travelers can book once and go anywhere. The company has built out a fleet of upscale custom-made mobile hotel rooms, using 2019 Ford Transit vans, to give travelers the freedom to travel and sleep where they want and when they want.
Unlike the regular hotels, every element, from the bed to the storage, to the bathroom to the internet, is designed from the ground up for a tailored and premium experience. Enabled through tech, Cabana brings travelers digital convenience and peace of mind through contact-free check-in. The app lets travelers reserve, check-in, pick-up, and check-out of their mobile hotel room without having to make a pit stop to the front desk.
The interest in vanlife is surging as evidenced by the 10.2M Instagram posts containing #vanlife, with 3.4M posts just since the start of the pandemic. Cabana is capitalizing on this interest and bringing the experience to travelers who are interested in an adventurous, flexible, and frictionless option while still having access to more upscale amenities in a way that no one else in the industry has accomplished.
Paul English, founder and CTO of Lola.com and co-founder of Kayak feels strongly about Cabana’s stance in the industry. “Cabana is leading the thinking behind how Americans will vacation today and in the future. Their custom ‘hotel on wheels’ gives travelers the best of both worlds, a comfortable modern stay and the freedom of the road,” Paul explains. “It’s the best experience to get a taste of both the city and its surrounding outdoor beauty.”
In the 6.7K+ nights booked in Cabana vans since its launch, nearly 70% of customers had never used an RV or campervan before and 92% of customers planned to book again. “Cabana is sold out for a reason: it’s an amazing product at a great price,” Jason Calacanis, founder of LAUNCH and TheSyndicate.com, says about the company’s growth trajectory. “It reminds me of the early days of Uber when people couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful the experience was!”
Cabana has expanded its locations from the Seattle market to Los Angeles, growing its fleet size to 35 vans, and now has an employee base of over 15 individuals to support operations. Between launching special holiday packages, running giveaways, and testing various offerings, the team quickly realized that many of its guests resonated with Cabana’s itineraries, prompting the launch of Cabana Concierge — a custom itinerary service provided to customers for no additional cost, curated from a questionnaire filled in with the traveler’s preferences.
“This new round of funding allows us to significantly grow and evolve the Cabana platform, focusing on building out hardware, software, and infrastructure beyond what we’ve created to date,” said Scott Kubly, Cabana founder, and CEO. “We launched during the pandemic when non-traditional travel exploded in popularity, giving us a solid foundation to build from and the ability to test various things and get insights from our customers — all extremely valuable to us as a startup — and are looking at expanding the Cabana experience beyond the van itself.”
Cabana plans to use the funds from this latest round to expand in new markets that have already expressed significant demand. Additionally, over 100 Cabana vehicles will be added to the fleet, with plans to launch a four-passenger van that will allow families with young children, or groups of close friends, to enjoy the Cabana experience. As the company expands operationally, Cabana plans to bring on more personnel to support various facets of the business.