Collaborative consumption continues to be a hot trend in the eyes of investors as news comes today that Love Home Swap, the holiday home exchange marketplace, has raised a further £800k (approx. $1.28m) from MMC Ventures, along with a number of unnamed angels. The new capital will be used to scale the company, including through acquisition, and to continue to develop the service and launch a new bespoke insurance product, a much-needed feature post-Airbnb woes.
MMC is a previous backer of UK-based Love Home Swap, having previously invested £850k, bringing the total raised by Love Home Swap to £1.65m.
Founded by Debbie Wosskow, and launched in October 2011, Love Home Swap builds on the age-old concept of home swapping as an alternative to renting expensive holiday accommodation. The holiday home exchange website provides members with the opportunity to connect with each other to swap their homes for “stylish and unique residences” across 70 countries — the premise being that not only can they reside for free via exchange, but they can also “holiday like a local”.
Membership of the site requires a paid-for subscription, which of course is how Love Home Swap makes money, and in addition, premium members get access to a dedicated travel team, personal concierge, travel guides and other benefits. The company is also talking up the social aspect of the site, as members share “insider tips” on the best things to see, eat, visit and do locally.
However, with today’s new investment, it’s all about scale. I’m told that the company is targeting 50,000 members by the middle of next year and that this will be partly achieved through “a number of competitor acquisitions” over the next few months, with the aim to achieve clear market leadership.
Meanwhile, Love Home Swap has sensibly been working on a bespoke home swapping insurance product in partnership with insurance company Hiscox, which will also provide a nice new revenue stream. It also plans to further develop its product to “build out social, mobile and local”, including further integration with Facebook’s social graph to let members find home swaps through their wider social circle. In addition, multi-language support is in the pipeline, with a French version launching at the beginning of January.
All in all, the collaborative consumption startup is pretty bullish about its growth prospects, citing research that shows that more than twice as many people are planning home swap holidays in 2012 vs 2011 – a rise from 1.6 million to over 3.2 million in the UK, apparently. Following today’s new funding round, it would appear that investors are bullish, too.