Mobile vacation rental app Dwellable lands $2M Seed

A who's who list of travel and real-estate angels back startup gunning for HomeAway

Financial trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
June 10, 2014
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Dwellable, a mobile-first app to find vacation rentals, announced Tuesday that it's raised $2 million in a Series Seed round of financing, led by Version One Ventures and Maveron, with participation from angel investors with significant experience in the travel and real estate space, such as Rob Solomon, former board director of vacation- and-home rental service HomeAway, Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, and co-founder of travel site Hotwire, as well as Glenn Kelmann, CEO of online real estate brokerage firm Redfin, and Oren Etzioni, founder of Farecast.

Launched in 2012 on iOS and Android, Seattle-based Dwellable lets people find and book vacation rentals on their mobile phones. 

To date, Dwellable, which has six on staff, has 300,000 rental listings, though the company won't disclose how many bookings it's executed and number of downloads.

In a world where apps emerge every day, the question is: What's the value proposition? For Dwellable, it's delivering the best results. "We're in the fast, easy way to find a vacation rental," said Kirby Winfield, CEO of Dwellable, adding that it takes 3.5 minutes for its users to find a rental and make an inquiry, which is about half the time it takes on HomeAway's mobile app. 

Dwellable surfaces homes based on a person's preferences, such as location, date, number of bedrooms and price. It doens't curate the rental listings and offer up a select few, rather it lists all that are available. The listings on top are ranked based on a number of attributes, such as the quality of photos, number of photos, good reviews, and Facebook Likes on Dwellable. This is a differentiator from HomeAway, said Winfield. On HomeAway, listings are shown based on who pays the most, he said. This makes Dwellable a much more desirable product for consumers. "When you look at HomeAway, it's paid listings."

While Winfield certainly sees HomeAway as a formidable competitor and the leading vacation rentail service out there, he doesn't see Airbnb in the same camp. Dwellable relies on listings from property management companies, much like HomeAway, said Winfield. There are 50,000 property management firms around the world, he said. Airbnb doesn't tap into that inventory.  

As for economics, Winfield wouldn't give exact figures, only to say that if a person lists his/her property directly onto Dwellable, and a rental is booked, Dwellable will receive about a 10% to 20% fee. If the property comes from a property management firm, Dwellable receives a percentage of what the property management firm charges the lister, which is about between 30% and 50%. 

With the new funds, Winfield hopes to double its staff, primarily with engineers.

 (Image source: cgtravelsblog)

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Description: Dwellable is the world's #1 rated mobile app for vacation rentals. 
Bio: I run Dwellable, the #1 vacation rental app.