Boutique hotel booking site Mr & Mrs Smith has raised six million pounds (US$7.8 million) through crowdfunding in mid October to accelerate the expansion of its hotel portfolio and into new verticals.
The financing came from about 2,000 public investors, ranging from existing members to new customers including angle investors.
Founder and executive chairman, James Lohan, said: “When thinking about the next chapter for our 15th anniversary, we decided that we want to raise more money again, which happens with many growing companies.
“Last year we made 1.5 million pounds EBITDA so we are a profitable group, and for the last 12 months we grew 37 per cent (July 2017- June 2018). Frankly, we don’t technically need money but by raising money, we can move faster.”
Mr & Mrs Smith welcomed a new chairman and created the new position of chief growth officer, which is filled by Julian Diment who was in charge of sales and marketing, Lohan told TTG Asia. The company also recruited a new managing director in the US, with the market growing 45 per cent year on year.
“We will put in more time and effort there so we can curate more quickly, but we are not changing our way of curating. So far, there is a queue of roughly 500 interested hotels globally and we’ll expand the curation team in order to bring these hotels into our portfolio more quickly.”
The new funding also helps fuels SideStory, a tour experiences vertical recently added, which offers guided journeys to discover hidden gems, from photogenic corners, tucked-away market stalls, out-of-sight street art and exclusive ateliers.
Currently, the service is available only in London and Paris, but Lohan aims to roll out to 10 more cities before the end of 2019.
He explained: “It’s just started and we understand our guests’ desire to have more than just a hotel stay.”
While Asia is a sizeable market for the company, expansion in the region is for now constrained by language.
“Out of our 1.5 million membership, Asian membership accounts for 250,000… But (expansion) is a bit restricted at the moment. For now, we are only in English-speaking locations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.
“One of our challenges is that we are a content rich company and we are really investing more into our blogs and main website. So to keep up with editorial and translation, where should it be translated first? Should it be here or Germany? Mr and Mrs Smith will continue to invest more in Asia and is trying to work out what the Chinese play would be,” said Lohan.