The new Berlin-based hospitality startup Cosi has raised €5 million in pre-launch seed funding, drawing participation from big names in world of travel, real estate, and hospitality. The company aims to compete with boutique hotels by offering uniquely designed apartments for short-term stays and a streamlined digital service to facilitate the guest experience.
Cosi’s CEO, Christian Gaiser, told Tech Crunch:
“More and more guests prefer to stay in a unique apartment versus a boring hotel, i.e. travelers tend to book their stay at a private host via Airbnb.”
But he notes that “the experience can be frustrating though due to lack of quality and service: long check-in/check-out times, poor interior design, lack of cleanliness, not enough linen, no service hotline in case of questions, to name a few examples.”
Cosi will aim to bridge the gap between the comforts and convenience of a traditional hotel and the experience of staying in a private home.
“Many guests, therefore, decide not to stay in a unique home for quality reasons. Cosi solves this problem as a full-stack hospitality brand: We control the entire guest journey from end-to-end.”
Venture capital firms Cherry Ventures and e.ventures led the funding round. Cosi also drew participation from industry insiders such as Nils Regge of HomeToGo and Dreamlines, Lufthansa Innovation Hub’s Gleb Tritus, and Manuel Stotz of Kingsway Capital, to name a few.
Cosi’s founders have lent the startup the credibility which helped it draw this level of support several months before launch. Gaiser founded shopping platform Bonial.com, before selling it to Axel Springer in 2011. Co-founder Dimitri Chandogin founded Doc+, a Russian digital healthcare service.
The company will sign long-term leases for properties, furnish them with a high standard for interior design, and offer a “digital service along the entire guest journey from initial contact to loyalty,” Gaiser says.
Behind the scenes, the service will be driven by technology that will help the company compete.
“Running a hospitality business requires a lot of tools in the background for housekeeping, maintenance, yield management, to name a few, that will create an efficiency edge for us.”
Cosi will aim for two groups of customers—tourists that are in Berlin for just a few days, who want to experience the city like a local by staying in a unique apartment, and businesspeople in town for weeks or months, who want a homey experience that traditional hotels won’t offer.
“Cosi creates a new category, but the closest direct competitors include smaller boutique hotels or traditional local serviced apartment operators for tourists. In a broader sense, we also compete with the big hotel companies like Marriott or Hilton in business travel.”
US companies Sonder and Lyric are using a similar model, but Gaiser says regulations and the need for local real estate relationships would make it hard for them to compete in Europe.