Accommodation startup Bobobox bagged an $11.5 million series A funding led by conglomerate Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures and Alpha JWC Ventures. New and existing investors, including Kakao Investments, Sequoia Surge, and Mallorca Investments, also participated in the round.
The Bandung-based startup was founded in 2017 by Antonius Bong and Indra Gunawan, who leads the company as president and CEO, respectively. Bobobox provides tech-enabled accommodation in the form of capsule rooms/sleeping pods, which can be booked for a few hours or a few days using its app. The company is answering to ‘on-demand sleep’ and challenges to regular budget accommodation on security, comfort, and affordability. It offers futuristic pods with lengthy features such as app-controlled door access, customizable lights, security, personal and king-sized bed, compact working space, air conditioner, and bluetooth speakers - all at an affordable price starting from $10 per night. Currently, Bobobox has a total of 572 pods in 9 hotels in Bandung, Jakarta, and Semarang.
With the series A funding, the startup aims to accelerate its product improvement and location expansion. Bobobox plans to grow its tech team, strengthen its manufacturing and operating models, add more features to its sleeping pods, and enhance the overall experience. Bobobox has four new locations in three cities ready to launch subject to COVID-19 circumstances, and Antonius and Indra have also designed expansion plans in Southeast Asia once the pandemic is over.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic hit the tourism industry hard, Bobobox has been able to maintain its performance. Its occupancy rate before the pandemic was at 80-90% and dropped to 50-60% in March, which is far better than other accommodation providers operating at single-digit occupancy rates or even resorting to shutting down. Bobobox also shared that local customers become Bobobox’s new regulars during the pandemic, as people try to improve their work-from-home experience, and some choose the nearest Bobobox from their workplace to avoid long commutes and exposure in public places.
"Despite the turbulence due to the pandemic, we are grateful that we can still lock in investment from global investors. Our discipline to maintain strong unit economics across all branches is what makes it an attractive investment opportunity. Our lean operating model also allows us to maintain a low burn rate, so we have a longer, sturdier runway ahead, compared to traditional accommodation players. Even with the unprecedented circumstances, we have managed to adapt quickly while not abandoning improvement plans for the future,” said Indra.
“We want to be the best player in the below-$15-accommodation class, and we know that we cannot do this alone. We are open for partnership opportunities with small property owners, investors, large-scale property developers and local government to speed up our expansion plans. While things might seem a little blurry right now, we will soon realize that travels are inevitable, and the industry will bounce back,” said Antonius.
In April, Bobobox and Li Ka-shing Foundation, in collaboration with IDI Jawa Barat, donated 100 sleeping pods to be installed at twelve COVID-19 hospitals in Jakarta and West Java. Named ‘shelter pods’, the facilities help medical workers rest in between their long shifts and some cases where medical workers were not allowed to return to their residences due to fear of virus transmission.
Bobobox previously secured a pre-series A funding from Agaeti Ventures, Everhaus, as well as existing investors Alpha JWC Ventures and Genesia Ventures. The startup was among the first Indonesian startups to join the accelerator program Surge of Sequoia Capital India in 2019.