Finland: Helsinki-based, tech-powered hospitality operator Bob W has announced the completion of a €40 million Series B funding round.
The round was led by Finnish venture capital firm Evli Growth Partnership, and joined by growth capital investors and prominent European entrepreneurs, including Taavet+Sten, the investment firm of Wise founder Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi, Flashpoint, and Supercell co-founder Mikko Kodisoja, along with existing investors.
The financial investment is set to power the Bob W brand to further develop its technology, as well as support fast-paced growth throughout Europe, where it currently operates design-led, sustainably-focused, full-service aparthotels in 10 countries and 17 cities.
Founded in 2018, each Bob W apartment incorporates its own bespoke local design and technology that give guests the best of both worlds: the consistency and quality of a lifestyle hotel and the local authenticity and amenities of an actual home.
It is the largest investment to date for the startup, which had previously raised a total of €22.5 million, including a €21 million Series A funding round in October 2022.
Niko Karstikko, co-founder and CEO of Bob W, said: “There is a surging demand for locally rooted, seamless travel experiences that technology enables. Yet, the short-term rental sector has had a shortage of standards and professional operators who can offer both local authenticity, hotel-grade quality, and tech to elevate the experience. At Bob W, we are leading this category.
“Our growth and market-leading customer satisfaction prove that we are heading in the right direction. With support from our investors, we’re eager and well-prepared to enter into a new phase of our company’s growth and expand the Bob W travel experience across Europe.
“Despite the challenging times in the capital markets, this investment is proof that top-performing companies continue to attract funding. We are thrilled to have these top-tier investors backing us, many of whom are successful entrepreneurs themselves and crucially, our happy customers.
“This funding enables us to further develop our technology, recruit top talent, and reinforce Bob W as Europe’s most loved hospitality brand,” he added.
The short-stay apartment rental operator’s proprietary technology and apps are designed to provide a seamless digital front desk experience that is backed by robust digital customer service and other fail safes so that guests always feel looked after.
Super-early check-ins or late check-outs can be instantly and automatically guaranteed based on live availability. Meanwhile, the mainly chat-based perfect host ‘Bob W’ has been created to make guests feel like they are receiving the best customer service with a human touch, despite minimal staff on site.
On top of a smooth online experience, Bob W’s ‘marketplace’ connects guests to local breakfast spots, gyms, facilities, and a host of digital products to ensure a truly local experience.
Mikael Hed, growth partner at Evli Growth Partners, said: “The hospitality industry needs bold disruptors like Bob W. The team is a pioneer in the new hybrid hospitality category, offering authentic, seamless travel experiences enabled by cutting-edge technology.
“Bob W’s growth demonstrates the team’s unique understanding of customer needs. We are excited to support the team in their next growth phase,” added Hed.
A hallmark of the Bob W experience is its commitment to local design and sustainability: the company partners with local brands, artists, and manufacturers, sourcing décor from close proximity to each property. This practice aligns the guest experience with the local community and further cements Bob W’s role as a leader in sustainability.
The company says that it is committed to transparency and honesty, actively advocating for these values while working towards climate net-neutrality. The company also offsets emissions of each stay.
Karstikko continued: “Commitment to sustainability is at the core of our mission. We consider measuring and reducing our carbon footprint is a fundamental aspect of our business, and the principles penetrate our procurement practices, operations, and how we work with property owners.
“We acknowledge that we aren’t perfect, as no one is, but we believe in transparency with our guests and peers. By openly sharing our data, we help our guests make more informed decisions, particularly with our emissions per guest night [in kg CO2-eq] metric.
“We are pushing the industry to follow suit. Consumers deserve the facts laid bare,” he added.