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Casai secures $48m in Mexico’s largest hospitality startup Series A raise

Mexico: Casai, an emerging markets hospitality brand that offers intelligent living spaces suited for the nomadic generation, has announced a $48 million Series A round, including $23 million in equity funding and up to $25 million in debt financing from TriplePoint Capital.

The round is the largest Series A raised by a company in Mexico and is one of the largest in Latin America.

Led by Andreessen Horowitz, the equity funding includes participating investors Andreessen Horowitz’s Cultural Leadership Fund, Kaszek Ventures, Monashees Capital, Global Founders Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures, Tom Stafford [managing partner of DST Global], and founders of leading startups including Nova Credit, Loft, Kavak and Runa. The new capital follows Casai’s $5 million seed funding led by Kaszek Ventures and Monashees, bringing Casai to a total of $53 million raised.

Aiming to build a “new vision for hospitality in Latin America”, Casai is launching with almost 200 units in Mexico City. The company says that it is setting a “high standard of excellence with luxurious amenities, stunning locally-sourced design and sophisticated smart technology”.

Casai’s real estate and design teams scout each space in-person to ensure that the location, lighting, finishes and layout together match the premium experience offered to modern travellers. To promote sustainable culture in tourism, Casai works with local artisans to design each space’s furniture, artisanal amenities and art, which is available for purchase by guests.

Technology is integrated into each traveller’s stay with Casai’s proprietary smart hardware hub, Butler, which connects all of the space’s smart technology to the company’s app.

Through the app, guests can access keyless check-in, control smart devices including Google Home, smart lights and Chromecast-powered TVs, as well as browse local recommendations. The hardware allows Casai to optimise guests’ experience by proactively identifying when issues [such as internet connectivity] may arise.

In addition to transforming the guest experience, Casai’s technology is used in all aspects of its operation, from its decisions on scouting units to how it manages its behind-the-scenes logistics.

Alongside its spaces in Mexico City, Casai has built a dedicated lounge in the Roma Norte neighbourhood, where guests can relax ahead of check-in or after check-out. Guests will also be able to access the all-day concierge, a team of locals who can recommend and book reservations for restaurants and nearby experiences.

The company aims to have guest lounges in key neighbourhoods around the world.

Built by a team of diverse industry leaders in tech, design and high-end hospitality, Casai is co-founded by CEO Nico Barawid, who comes from Nova Credit and BCG, and COO María del Carmen Herrerías Salazar, from Grupo Presidente, one of Mexico’s largest hotel operators. CTO

Andrés Páez Martínez joins from Google, CRO Alberto Ramos was previously at McKinsey, and chief growth officer Daniel Hermann arrives from Selina. Alexa Backal, Casai’s head of design, comes from GAIA Design, and Cristina Crespo, VP of experience, previously ran WeWork’s international design studio.

Casai co-founder and CEO, Nico Barawid, said: “We want to embed our guests in the culture that makes the travel experience magical while also helping the local economy. We practise sustainable culture in tourism by working with local artisans to fill our spaces and creating interactive experiences that support their art and tell their stories.

“We’re honoured to have raised this funding to continue this mission and grow Casai to new levels,” he added.

Moving forward, Casai has plans to expand throughout Latin America.

Between 2010 and 2018, Latin America experienced an increase of nearly 55 per cent in international tourist arrivals. Prior to Covid-19, The World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO] forecasted that Latin America would attract 78.2 million tourists by 2027, generating $82 billion for the local economy.

Angela Strange, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said: “To successfully execute on this opportunity, a team needs to bring together expertise from consumer technology, design, hospitality, real estate and financial services to develop world-class operations needed to deliver on a first-class experience. It was obvious when I met Nico and Maricarmen that they are operationally laser-focused and have uniquely blended expertise across verticals, with unique views on the consumer experience.”

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