Brazil's biggest online travel firm gets $20mi cash injection

Hotel Urbano raises third round of funding from US investment firm Insight Venture Partners
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Online travel company Hotel Urbano has raised a series C round of funding from US venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners.

The cash provided by Insight, also a backer of Twitter, Tumblr and Flipboard, will be used to boost the travel firm's technology set-up, as well as staff, marketing and new product development.

Hotel Urbano was founded in 2011 by brothers João Ricardo and José Eduardo Mendes. Since its inception, the company quickly became the biggest travel website in the country, with revenues jumping from R$90mi ($39.4mi) to $280mi ($123mi) in 2012. Its founders expect earnings to exceed the R$500mi ($219mi) mark in 2013.

In that short period of time, the number of staff at the company also grew exponentially, from the initial four employees who worked in a small room in Rio de Janeiro to more than 400 people based in offices in Rio and São Paulo. In addition, the firm is also bringing its brand to the "offline world", with two points of sale in Rio shopping malls, launched last year.

As well as a huge Facebook follower base, with 7,8 million fans, Hotel Urbano is enjoying a rapid rise in popularity amongst young Brazilian consumers. In 2012 alone, the company has intermediated 1,6 million reservations for accommodation in Brazil and abroad and the goal for this year is to reach 2,9 million bookings.

The latest injection of capital for Hotel Urbano follows two other rounds of funding, also led by Insight Venture Partners, in 2011 and 2012. The investors have a minority interest in the start-up, while the founders own the majority of the company and some employees also hold a small percentage of shares. 

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