VCs back ‘vanlife’ as Seattle travel startup Cabana raises $10M for its camper rental service

(Cabana Photo)

Seattle-based startup Cabana is riding interest in “vanlife” travel and just landed $10 million to fuel growth of its service that brings together camping, car sharing, and boutique hotel luxuries.

The startup, launched by former Seattle Department of Transportation head and Lime exec Scott Kubly, allows campers to rent a renovated cargo van for their next trip. Cabana’s custom-built Ford Transit vans include beds, storage, bathrooms, and internet. Vans are rented using the Cabana app, which also allows customers to lock and unlock the vehicles. Costs vary but usually come out to $200/night before taxes.

Cabana’s “hotel on wheels” concept launched last summer, when people were itching to travel but cautious about COVID-19. Kubly, founder and CEO, said the pandemic gave Cabana a “solid foundation” to grow the business and customer experience.

The interior of a Cabana camper van. (Cabana Photo)

The company has booked nearly 7,000 nights on its platform, and 70% of customers had never previously used an RV or campervan. Revenue has increased 450% since December. The vans are booked out for the 4th of July and Labor Day weekend in Seattle.

Cabana currently has a 35-van fleet and 15 employees. With the new funding, Cabana wants to add more than 100 vans to its fleet and expand to more cities. It also plans to offer four-person vans that can accommodate more families and small group trips.

Jason Calacanis, an early Uber investor and Cabana backer, said the Seattle startup “reminds me of the early days of Uber when people couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful the experience was.”

“Vanlife” was already a popular influencer trend, but the confines of COVID-19 had people fantasizing of getting away in a minimalist environment, the New York Times reported last summer. But plenty of others have noted the downsides of vanlife, such as broken heaters and sleeping in parking lots, as Insider reported.

Cabana, which recently expanded its services beyond Seattle to Los Angeles, has raised $15 million to date. The Series A round was led by Craft Ventures and Goldcrest Capital.

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Startups Transportation Cabana Funding