Vancouver-based hospitality software startup Operto Guest Technologies has secured $15.3 million CAD ($12 million USD) in Series A funding to fuel its geographic expansion plans and shift into serving hotels.
Founded in 2016, Operto provides property automation and IoT operating system software for the hotel, multi-family, vacation and short-term rental industries designed to manage the post-booking guest experience.
“The real opportunity for a company to hit massive scale in our industry is you must play in the hotel space.”
-Steve Davis, Operto
To date, Operto has focused most of its efforts on serving smaller players in North America’s short-term rental market, like Airbnb hosts. But amid a rebound in travel and a rise in demand for tech from players in the accommodation space, the startup sees a chance to bring its guest experience automation tech to hotels and expand into Europe, Australia, and Asia.
“The market has moved so significantly since COVID,” Operto CEO Steve Davis told BetaKit in an interview, adding that more and more players in the accommodation space are “starting to dabble in tech-enabled stays for guests.”
Davis added, “the real opportunity for a company to hit massive scale in our industry is you must play in the hotel space. The expertise that we have been sort of grooming and manifesting over the last four or five years is now at the point where we can scale our technology to take on larger installations.”
The startup’s all-equity Series A round was led by Washington-based Fuse, and saw follow-on participation from Santa Barbara’s Watchfire Ventures, Vancouver-based BlackPines Capital Partners, and other undisclosed investors. The new capital brings Operto’s total funding to just over $20 million CAD.
“The short-term rental space has been operating with physical keys and binders full of information,” Fuse Founding Partner Brendan Wales told BetaKit. “Operto is bringing everything physical into the digital age. The team is passionate about this problem and their customers rave about their solutions.”
According to Wales, who is joining the startup’s board as part of this round, Operto is solving “a key infrastructure problem in hospitality.”
“Whereas other companies within this category have chosen to create simple applications for managing guest bookings, Operto has gone after the most painful part of the guest experience, which is access to the unit,” said Wales. “To do this well, Operto has worked tirelessly to perfect how property managers provision and support smart locks.”
In addition to solving for access, Operto provides property managers with a suite of tools for managing home IoT devices like motion sensors and energy management devices.
According to Davis, within the broader hospitality software landscape, what most companies have done is build a point solution that addresses a single problem, whereas Operto is building an operating system that can work with and help manage a wide variety of other technologies and devices.
The CEO claims that what differentiates Operto from some of the other players in this space is its flexibility.
“We can build a burger that looks different from the next one, from the next one, from the next one,” said Davis. “You choose the toppings and we can build it for you. That is our competitive moat.”
Operto’s Series A round follows a year of growth for the startup, which began expanding into new accommodation verticals, launched new services, and acquired Washington-based vacation rental software provider VRScheduler, which has since been rebranded as Operto Teams.
According to Davis, the startup saw 400 percent year-over-year revenue growth in 2021 as travel began to rebound, fuelled in part by a rise in demand for tech solutions that improve the accommodation experience for guests.
“As an early investor in Operto, it has been great to watch the company’s journey and tremendous growth over the past few years,” said BlackPines Capital Partners founder and CEO Darren Huston, former Booking.com CEO, who also serves as Operto’s executive chairman. “I look forward to supporting Steve and our amazing team, as we pursue the next chapter of innovation and growth.”
Operto currently has over 50 employees. As it expands its presence overseas, starting with the opening of a new office in Barcelona in March, Davis said the startup expects to double its headcount over the next 12 months.
Feature image from Operto.