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Capsule hotel startup Bobobox bags USD 11.5 million in Series A

Bobobox plans to bring its pods to other Southeast Asian countries when the pandemic ends.

Bobobox capsule pods. Picture courtesy of Bobobox.

Bandung-based accommodation startup Bobobox has raised USD 11.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Horizons Ventures and Alpha JWC Ventures, according to a company statement. New and existing investors Kakao Investments, Sequoia Surge, and Mallorca Investments also participated in the round.

With the fresh capital, Bobobox aims to accelerate its product improvement and expansion to more locations. “We are always on the move to secure more locations to serve the market better. However, in the meantime, we will focus on new features and protocols to address COVID-19 situations, such as a contactless and seamless check-in/check-out process, as well as rigorous hygiene standards,” said co-founder and president Antonius Bong.

Bobobox also mentioned it plans to enter other Southeast Asia countries when the pandemic ends. The company further wants to enhance the features of its capsule pods and strengthen its manufacturing and operating models. Bong said the firm is developing new products that could become additional revenue streams in the future.

Bobobox said it is open for partnership opportunities with small property owners, investors, large-scale property developers, and local government, to speed up its expansion plans.

COVID-19 impact

The pandemic is hitting Indonesia’s travel and hospitality industry hard, as many people cancelled their vacation plans. The country’s central statistic agency reported that hotel occupancy rates only reach 32%, the lowest in almost five years.

Bobobox is not immune to this, however, it claims to do “relatively well”, especially when compared to conventional hotels. The occupancy of its more than 500 pods only dropped to between 50 and 60% in March, from at least 80% before.

“Our lean operating model allows us to maintain a low burn rate, so we have a longer, sturdier runway ahead, compared to traditional accommodation players,” said co-founder and CEO Indra Gunawan.

Markets are shifting

The firm sees a shift in the market, as more locals are using the pods. People want to improve their work-from-home experience and look for temporary accommodation near their workplace. Bobobox says it applied extra preventive measures, including limits on the number of guests staying in common areas.

“We have installed more than 100 pods in hospitals as comfortable shelters for doctors and health workers, so they can rest better while remaining close to their patients,” Bong added.

Founded in 2017, Bobobox provides capsule rooms, or “pods”. Each room is equipped with app-controlled secured door access, customizable lights, Bluetooth speaker, king-size or single-size bed, compact working space, and personal air conditioner—all for at least USD 10 per night.

Since the last funding announcement last year, Bobobox has added six new locations in three cities: Bandung, Jakarta, and Semarang. It also has four new locations in three undisclosed cities ready to launch but postponed due to COVID-19.