Congratulations to VC4Africa members Sarah Fazendin and Maisa Fernandez, founders of hotel reservations portal Globa.li! They raised US$675k from investors and are in the finalizing steps to reach the US$ 1 million target for their present round! Also read the interview we had with co-founder Sarah five months ago. We had a chance to catch up with Sarah and Maisa for an update.
Please introduce Globa.li, and why it is interesting for investors?
“Over one third of the world’s hotels are not bookable online. While big-brand hotels in major destinations are easily bookable online, it’s a very different story for boutique hotels in places like Africa, Latin America and Asia. At Globa.li, we believe it should be easier to book the world’s best hotels, and are launching a revolutionary business-to-business hotel reservations portal to give the world’s top hotels in exotic locations expanded, low-cost online distribution.
This is interesting for investors because Globa.li is the first to aggregate this hotel inventory, and it’s a very big market. We’re curating from over 180,000 hotels worldwide who are not currently bookable online, and these hotels are spending over $18 billion each year in booking fees.
We are introducing a no-risk, low cost booking fee distribution option for these hotels, and a marketplace where they can manage their entire distribution chain in one place.”
What investments have you secured and what are you still be looking for?
“We have secured US$675k from an impressive roster of investors, including Cheryl Rosner – former President of Hotels.com -, Ed Barlow – CEO of Imanta Resorts – and others involved in the travel industry. We have US$325k left in the round and are looking to close that very quickly.”
The last time we interviewed you, you were set to begin your April test phase. How did you progress to where you are now?
“Like many technology startups today, we follow lean development methods. As such, as our development progressed and we engaged a variety of top buyers and hoteliers to help us craft a really smart and intuitive solution for the users of Globa.li.
It is clear that the assumption that these hotels are not online because there is an absence of quality technology is completely untrue. What is true is that the online sales outlets today are simply too fragmented and simply don’t meet the needs of the buyers and hotels both from an accessibility standpoint and by providing a seamless marketplace environment.
So we quickly pivoted and introduced Globa.li as a marketplace that solves the most important problems for these hotels. First, we created an all-encompassing live booking marketplace for distributors and hoteliers to interact and engage, all while providing live aggregated inventory. Second, we created – and patented – a multi-hotel search, where users can search, book and manage multiple hotels/complete itinerary on one reservation.”
How did you find your investors to date, and what would you recommend to other entrepreneurs?
“Our accelerator program, the Telluride Venture Accelerator, was very helpful in bringing visibility to our company and connecting us with like-minded investors. For early stage technology companies, accelerator programs are a great way to grow your business, make early iterations and find seed funding.
We also did a lot of research to find out what individual and institutional investors are actively investing in travel technology, and then reached into our advisor and mentor roster for valuable introductions. Having a strategic investor portfolio is critical to success. Take your time, don’t take every dollar that gets thrown at you, and think about if these are people you want to be on a team with for the long-haul.”
Which milestones do you hope to reach this year, and what do you hope to achieve with your venture in the long run?
“By the end of the year we hope to be transitioning from our prototype – which we are currently testing with about 150 top African hotels – to our enterprise product development. We also hope to grow the hotel inventory to several hundred hotels, and are staffing up a sales team to help make this happen.
In the long run, we expect to become the main aggregator of boutique hotels worldwide for travel distributors. Globa.li will be the go-to platform for travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and DMC’s to instantly find and book the world’s best boutique hotels.”
How has VC4Africa created value for you and what advice would you give to entrepreneurs who might consider to apply for VC4Africa’s September fundraising Cohort?
“As a startup that serves the African market, but has offices all over the world, including in Africa, VC4Africa has been a great way to remain connected to the entrepreneurial and investment community within Africa. The advice from the VC4Africa team and introductions to investors has been extremely useful!”
For more information, see the venture profile of Globa.li on VC4Africa. Only registered investors can review the documents, see details for this deal, and express their interest to participate.
Inspired to raise capital yourself? Check out the call for applications for VC4Africa’s September Cohort!