Silkhausa Dubai-based short-term rental platform coming out of stealth has raised $7.75 million in seed funding, money it plans to use for expansion in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the MENA region.
Venture capital firms participating in the round include Nuwa Capital, Nordstar, Global Founders Capital, Yuj Ventures, Whiteboard Capital and VentureSouq. Several international family offices and proptech founders also participated in this round.
Director Aahan Bhojanic and Ashmin Varma founded Silkhaus last year after identifying a $13 billion market opportunity for asset owners in emerging markets, particularly MENA, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In an interview with TechCrunch, Bhojani, a graduate of HBS and Yale College who had previously worked in positions that required a lot of travel, such as management consulting and investment banking, prompted him to launch Silkhaus, following the change in small business travel behaviour. the pandemic.
“While building software for SMBs to book and manage travel worldwide, I saw companies start to do something different,” the CEO told TechCrunch during a phone call. “Traditionally, companies have always stayed in hotels. But interestingly, now they also started asking for short term rentals, you know, basically the Airbnbs of the world. And then I started scratching my head and thinking about this whole space from a supply and demand issue.”
The pandemic had changed the nature of travel, he said. According to him, the frequency of leisure and business trips decreased, while the average duration of these trips skyrocketed. His interpretation of this event was that these journeys became more nomadic and long-term thinking. But while platforms like Airbnb have fantastic aggregate demand to meet supply in the US and Europe, it’s a different experience in emerging markets where supply isn’t aggregated enough to meet Airbnb-driven demand. That’s where Silkhaus comes in. It digitizes the short-term rental process for property owners large and small by providing an operating system with the tools needed to monetize and manage their properties. The company claims that it allows property owners to list multiple or single units on the platform with an average revenue increase of between 20-40%.
“Frankly, finding a good Airbnb in these markets is like pulling a needle out of a haystack. And that’s what we’re aiming for,” Bhojani said. “We bring together some of the most successful short-term rental companies and build the highest quality supplier of that inventory for our partners, Airbnb being one of them. Our big vision is to bring quality, control and technology into the space. We exist to ensure that more people can experience high-quality short-term rentals.”
Essentially, Silkhaus acquires rental units from asset owners (currently in Dubai) and manages distribution, pricing, revenue management and full coverage from a digital perspective; Airbnb is one of about 60 different distribution channels that Silkhaus uses. Meanwhile, the company has built tools at the back, including a marketplace for third-party vendors to access these rentals and perform operations.
According to the CEO, Dubai was the ideal market to launch Silkhaus as its infrastructure offers one of the most advanced short-term rental setups, embodies progressive government regulation for proptech and welcomes different demands from different types of consumers. Silkhaus’ tech team, split between the city of UAE and Bangalore, is currently building out its tech stack, the company said in a statement. Chief operating officer Varma leads the team, which is part of a 20-strong workforce that includes professionals from Microsoft, Airbnb, Careem and Deliveroo.
Bhojani claims that Silkhaus is currently in the top 3% of operators in the city in terms of units under management. He said the proptech startup, which has grown more than 10x in sales in the past 12 months, plans to enter the top 1% in the next two months by increasing the real estate offerings on its platform.
Silkhaus estimates that its market opportunity could grow to $18 billion in the next four years. With operations planned for the major economic centers of Asia and the MENA region, providing quality lodging options to guests and allowing their employees to choose extended stays at Silkhaus will be crucial to capture a significant portion of this market share. to conquer.
“We are delighted to see Silkhaus emerge as the leading short-term rental platform across Asia, and in particular excited to partner with Aahan and his team, who have proven in a short space of time that they are able to handle two major and disrupting fragmented industries: true estate and hospitality,” Nordstar managing partner Ole Ruch said in a statement.