College kids: Book your next spring break at a “mermaid cottage”—a hand-built and outsider-art decorated cabin in the mountains of Colorado. Or a “dome hideaway” that meets FEMA disaster standards in the hurricane alley of Murietta, S.C. Or an unfinished treehouse in Los Feliz with restroom accommodations at the gas station a block away. These are real listings—featured ones, no less—atHovelstay.com.
“We really wanted to be the anti-luxury vacation rental site,” said co-founder and CEO Michael Bolger. “We decided on the approach of full disclosure—if it’s a dump, we would love to have it, and students are in on this kind of experience.”
The Glendale startup offering “inexpensive and interesting places to stay for traveling college students” has raised $1.2 million in Series A funding led by private investors in London and Dubai. Hovel hosts can list for free and pay a 3 percent fee on the booking rate. However, Hovelstay.com is charging property owners an introductory rate of 1 percent through Feb. 1, 2015.
Student users can book hovels for a night, a week or a semester. They pay a 3 percent fee for merchant processing and must provide a verifiable .edu email address. No listing is over $99. .
“It’s not just where you stay; it’s what happens when you stay there,” Bolger added. “The same experience as when you backpack through Europe during a summer break—you’re willing to sleep on a bale of hay inside of a barn in Germany to save money. That’s what we are selling. But, to be on the safe side, we do have some cool luxury listings, too.”
“We decided on the approach of full disclosure—if it’s a dump, we would love to have it, and students are in on this kind of experience,” said Hovelstay.com co-founder and CEO Michael Bolger.
By: Annlee Ellingson
Staff Writer-L.A. Biz
September 04, 2014