The Host Co., a digital commerce marketplace for short-term rentals, has raised an oversubscribed seed funding round of $1.85 million to help the startup scale.
HearstLab led the round with participation from the Artemis Fund, Untapped Capital and unnamed angel investors.
Founded in September 2020 by former HGTV producers Annie Sloan and Mike Hubbard, the Host Co. enables short-term rental hosts to create custom stores to sell items, such as artwork or snacks, available in their homes.
It offers additional services such as pre-stocking pantries and connecting hosts to local artisan products for sale.
Guests can make purchases before or during their stay, and the Host Co. makes a commission on each sale.
"We are currently helping short-term rental hosts curate a value-add experience for their guests and make more money from every booking," says Sloan.
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"Demand for our technology is accelerating at a rapid pace, and we now have a waiting list of over 1,100 additional hosts. This investment will enable us to scale and expand our logistical capabilities, partner with more short-term rental hosts and further enhance the guest experience."
According to the Host Co., which says its technology is designed to work across all short-term rental platforms including Airbnb and Vrbo, more than 40% of guests purchase an item when they stay in a rental with a Host Co. store, and more than 90% of guests open the store.
Says Diana Murakhovskaya, general partner and co-founder at the Artemis Fund: “At Artemis, we love the mission of companies that are intentionally designing for prosperity for many. Providing another income stream to hosts is incredibly compelling especially as women constitute 56% of hosts and the fastest-growing host demographic is seniors."