Berlin start-up 9Flats announced a major funding round from national telecomms provider Deutsche Telekom, CEO Stephan Uhrenbacher told Venture Village the deal brings more than just a mountain of cash.
“Deutsche Telekom, as the owner of ImmobilienScout24, is able to offer us their marketing expertise and there are many similarities between our businesses which will help us both going forward,” said Uhrenbacher.
The rent-out-your-place start-up 9Flats – which competes with traditional US power Airbnb as well as big-spending fellow Berlin start-up Wimdu in a fragmented marketplace – was being coy about the exact amount of funding, which is thought to be less than Euro10m.
But CEO Uhrenbacher was clear about what the funding would be spent on: “We already have a presence in 104 countries,” he explained, “and are strongest in Western Europe, particularly Germany, France, Spain and the UK. But there are 10 other European countries that we want to expand our presence in as well as a number of cities.
“We have a strong inventory and publicising what we do is very important so the funding will also help our marketing efforts.
“We also want to improve our website to make it even more appealing to users.”
After a momentous 2011 which included much-publicised lay-offs at Wimdu and 9Flats, Uhrenbacher predicted the rental marketplace would calm down.
“Airbnb did invest heavily in online marketing for a while but they pulled back and things are returning to normal there,” added the Berlin-based 9Flats chief. “Wimdu have been the biggest spenders and there is still a question mark over what their next move will be but ours is a very fragmented marketplace and I don’t think we will see a winner-takes-all, eBay situation.”
The funding round was led by T-Venture, the venture capital arm of Deutsche Telekom, with additional support from Hamburg-based existing shareholders eVenture Capital Partners and California’s Redpoint Ventures.
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