Secret Escapes attracts new funding and a battle-hardened CEO

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Keen On… Why The Third Industrial Revolution Will Take Place in Europe Rather Than America (TCTV)

Secret Escapes, the exclusive flash sales for luxury hotel rooms along the lines of Voyage Prive in France, is announcing a second funding round, although they are being coy about the level. Suffice to say this is a site which is pretty much ‘coining it’ amongst users, having attracted 750,000 active users since January this year and claims to be doubling turnover every three months.

Tom Valentine, MD of Secret Escapes declined to give a figure for the new funding but said its “supporting major new marketing initiatives” to the tune of £5 million in 2012, so I think it’s safe to expect some TV advertising.

The funding comes from existing investors who are what you might call the “Lovefilm mafia” and the “Zoopla mafia” and some angels.These are William Reeve (original investor), Atlas Venture, Octopus Ventures, Alex Chesterman, Laurel Bowden (as an angel not as Greylock), Mark Quinn-Newall and Murray Salmon from Net-a-Porter and Robin Klein of TAG.

It’s also appointed a new CEO, Alex Saint. He moves from Dealchecker where he also held the CEO position. Last month Secret Escapes announced major co-branded partnerships with Teletext and a national newspaper.

With Alex Saint also comes Troy Collins after they sold their their business Dealchecker.co.uk to easyvoyage. Both Alex and Troy were original founders, now joining full time after the end of their earnouts.

Valentine says high end consumers now want both luxury goods and a deal. Nothing like a recession! Certainly Secret Escapes seems well adapted well to the UK market’s savvy value shoppers.

Fred Destin of Atlas Ventures admitted to me that Secret Escape is a clone: “Yes, it’s a clone. Sue me. We should all adopt a clone and put this debate to rest. That way you might be to the end of an interview with Oliver Samwer”.

Touché, Fred.