Raus is a Berlin-based platform offering nature-based stays within reach of cities.
The startup, which wants to expand beyond Germany, has received total funding of €3.2 million with the founders of TIER and HomeToGo among investors.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Raus is a nature-on-demand service that provides seamless access to the great outdoors. Through our nature hospitality platform people get access to beautiful remote locations – places where they can unwind in sustainable spaces, find a balance to their busy routines and tap into the power of the outdoors.
All our sites are located in quaint, pristine surroundings within a short drive from cities. We carefully source each location and build trustful partnerships with private landowners. Placing our architect-designed, sustainable off-grid cabins directly into nature, we charge our community a fee to access them, sharing some of the revenue with the landowner in exchange for providing the land and housekeeping services.
We are keen to provide our guests with an easy, comfortable and beautiful experience to unwind and find balance in their busy routines. With our sustainably designed and thoughtfully equipped cabins, we offer boutique stays that are close enough to major cities but far enough from the pace, stimuli and commitments that come with big city life.
Raus is a unique brand that encompasses key aspects of many of the fastest-growing consumer trends from sustainable living and travel, design, wellness to mental health, outdoors and adventure. We’re an early stage startup with a dedicated audience that is highly engaged and enthusiastic about every step we take.
Since we launched our first locations in mid-October, we have constantly been at close to 100% occupancy across all locations - including weeknights - and are already fully booked for all available dates in 2022. We believe that getaways to the outdoors can be great opportunities to be mindful of what matters in life.
This is why we want to become the go-to platform for nature immersion and create possibilities to shift your unshared energy, attention and time to untouched places – both, outside and inside.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
We tend to say that we have a nature-front end that is enabled by a tech-backend. We want to make our guests’ stay as carefree as possible, as we believe taking time off in nature shouldn’t come with much preparation and even less frustration.
We offer a fully digital booking journey with online check-in and keyless door access while our cabins are equipped with a ton of smart home sensors. For example, we’re able to check the battery load, water usage and temperature or open the doors at any time from afar.
This allows us to operate the cabins remotely and provide our guests, who, by the way, also have insights into their energy and water consumption through smart panels, with an undisturbed stay. We are also thinking far beyond the stay in the cabin itself - from the moment you book a place, how to get there, what you eat and drink, what activities you want to do while at Raus and even the moment when you get back home.
There are so many opportunities for us to improve the current status quo with technology. So around the guests' stay, we are creating this ecosystem, offering our guests access to products and services from the rural region of their cabin. In addition, we work closely with landowners, like farmers or foresters who not only profit by renting parts of their properties but also can offer their services and products through our digital platform. Thus, we’re helping strengthen economically underdeveloped regions with our approach to tourism.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
With Raus, we are right at the hub of multiple emerging trends such as eco-tourism, remote work and awareness of mental health. By building a product that is versatile and meets the needs of all the above, we can ensure an experience that fulfils the guests' specific desires and at the same time offers a solution for general societal developments.
Of course, as we work with very secluded locations, operating the cabins and building an infrastructure to ensure a comfortable stay requires constant adaptations and comes with many challenges – but also makes for a lot of funny anecdotes.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
For our guests, making the experience as hassle-free as possible is the highest priority. The demand for nature getaways exists and continues to grow, but especially when the impulse comes from a sense of stress and overstimulation, planning and arranging a stay somewhere hidden and undisturbed proves to be a barrier.
By providing a seamless booking experience, digital check-in, food and beverage options during the stay and additional features, we take on all the stressful parts of the getaway and allow our guests to simply unplug and fully experience the serenity of pristine nature. They should not have to miss anything during their visits and focus purely on spending time well.
As for the industry, the past years have clearly proven that the approach to traveling has changed, especially in the face of climate change. With a heightened sense of ecological responsibility, a local getaway is not only the more sustainable choice but by providing seamless access to restful spaces in nature, we also hope to generate a sense of appreciation for its impact on our well-being as well as the state of our planet.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We’re very fortunate that our product is exceptionally well-received among our guests. Not only have we been almost fully booked for all available dates since we first launched, with 100% of bookings made directly through our website, but the enthusiasm is even shared among those who have yet to experience a stay themselves.
Our Instagram followers organically grew to more than 26k within just a few months and our waitlist currently lists almost two thousand people. At the moment, we’re very excited to finally host all of those eagerly awaiting their stay at one of our locations.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
With Raus we sit at the intersection of multiple and rapidly accelerating consumer behavior trends, including outdoor vacation, wellness and prioritization of mental health, flexible working and sustainable living.
Each of these high growth markets are worth billions of dollars annually and show no signs of slowing down.
This is where our concept fits in perfectly: We provide the space while it’s all up to the guests how to spend their time - be it a digital detox and unwinding mentally, but also working creatively and gaining inspiration from nature or even setting up the next business ideas in an undisturbed surrounding. The versatility of the experience allows us to tap into all of the above mentioned consumer markets.
How and when will you make money?
We are super proud to have gathered many leading investors with travel industry expertize and successful entrepreneurs as business angels to support our journey. This allows us foremost to grow our business, and expand through Germany and soon across borders too.
At the same time, we want to invest in creating our proprietary tech stack and upgrading the unique guest experience. Thus far, with not only almost 100% of all bookable dates for 2022 occupied but also an extensive waiting list, we are confident that the potential for growth is ample.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
Christopher, Johann and I have always shared a passion for the outdoors. We have known each other since our schooldays and have since gained insights into multiple industries – but one of the biggest achievements for sure is now leading a company as friends. Johann has a communications and real estate background, while Christopher's background is investment banking and asset financing.
Prior to Raus, I was fortunate to work at Airbnb for about six years and later I joined Tourlane leading communications and brand. The three of us all had this moment in our careers where we wanted to change the way we work, and how to find more balance to our busy routines.
Raus started as some sort of self-serving side project and we are still amazed by the impact it continues to have on our guests.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
When we had the idea for Raus there were a lot of people that told us that we would be crazy and that this would never work.
Meeting our high standards – in terms of sustainability but also when it comes to the guest experience. Bringing those two aspects together is definitely a challenge, but one we’re happy to accept. Everything we’re doing is based on the idea of “the magical stay.”
We want to surprise our guests and provide them with memorable moments. But we’re also here to preserve nature, to develop and operate our cabins in the most sustainable way and we’re already working on numerous ideas for respective initiatives we’re planning to launch.
Achieving this while facing the complexity that comes with operating off the grid and outside the usual city-infrastructure is both our biggest challenge and what makes the endeavor so unique - basically offering a boutique hotel experience in the wild.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of the lucky ones?
With Raus, we do not simply serve a quickly passing hype but rather meet the demand for the current societal and ecological changes that will accompany us for many years to come. The approach to building a sustainable business does not only materialize through the design of our cabins but rather incorporates a long-term perspective on our understanding of travel and nature.
We are committed to empowering people to spend their time well, take care of themselves, and travel sustainably. Mindfulness is a core principle of our approach and something that matters to people on many levels.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
The next step is to expand nationally. At the same time, we are growing continuously as a team and are building in-house tech solutions, as well as expand the services revolving around a stay at Raus. Hopefully, one year from now we’ve brought a ton of people into nature and helped them find a bit more balance in their busy lives.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
To be frank this is nothing we are thinking about and I also think if you start a business only with the intention to sell it quickly it’s mostly meant to fail. We are at the very beginning of our journey with Raus and there is so much to look forward to.
First and foremost, with Raus we want to make nature seamlessly accessible to anyone. Booking a stay in a beautiful remote place and spending time in a sustainable cabin equipped with all the essentials should be as easy as booking a hotel room. Our vision is to become the go-to platform for nature immersion and the category leader in nature hospitality.
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