Short interview with Arnaud Bertrand (CEO, HouseTrip)

HouseTrip_Arnaud-BertrandLast Thursday, Housetrip has announced a $17 million Series B funding round led by Balderton Capital. The Lausanne (Switzerland) based startup describes itself as Europe’s leading holiday apartment website. Aside of Balderton Capital, the investor consortium of the current financing round also includes the existing investor Index Ventures who reinvested pro-rata. Tim Bunting of Balderton Capital will join Neil Rimer of Index Ventures and HouseTrip.com founders Arnaud Bertrand and Junjun Chen on the board.

HouseTrip.com allows guests to find and book villas and apartments for short-term stays in an easy-to-use, secure environment. Hosts can list their properties free-of-charge with no hidden charges and HouseTrip offers them a number of online tools, taking the hassle out of managing the bookings and receiving payments. We recently had the chance to do a short interview with HouseTrip’s Founder and CEO, Arnaud Bertrand. Check it out:

EU-Startups.com: HouseTrip.com went live in January 2010 and has generated bookings for over 500,000 nights so far. What makes HouseTrip unique or better than other holiday apartment websites out there?

Arnaud Bertrand: First of all we are by far the biggest holiday apartment website in Europe with 55’000 apartments so that already sets us apart. Also we focus pretty much exclusively on whole apartments (i.e. you have the whole apartment for yourself when you book it) contrary to other companies which tend to have a lot of spare rooms (i.e. you stay in a spare room at someone’s place).

EU-Startups.com: You just announced a $17 million Series B investment from Balderton Capital, Index Ventures and other investors. What are you mainly going to use the funds for?

Arnaud Bertrand: The funding will be used to develop three key growth areas for the company: Product (through increased functionality of the website), Inventory (through additional outreach to holiday apartments hosts) and Reach (through marketing and translationlocalisation).

EU-Startups.com: Where would you like to see the HouseTrip.com and the HouseTrip brand in about three years?

Arnaud Bertrand: Our vision is to become – and become famous as – having a great selection of holiday apartments in all popular destinations worldwide.

EU-Startups.com: Right now, HouseTrip.com is available in English, French, German and Spanish. When are you planning to launch the site in additional languages and which ones will they most likely be?

Arnaud Bertrand: We plan to add a few additional languages in the near future but haven’t decided on which ones yet.

EU-Startups.com: How many people are currently working for HouseTrip and how do you support the corporate culture in such a rapidly growing company?

Arnaud Bertrand: We are currently 70. I think that we have a pretty strong culture even though we are so fast growing; we have a strong set of values that we enforce through company rituals/traditions and employee recognition/reward around these values.

EU-Startups.com: You have just moved your headquarters over to London from Switzerland. How is your experience with Lausanne as a location to start a company and why did you choose to relocate to London?

Arnaud Bertrand: Our headquarter didn’t move: we are still a Swiss company. We simply have opened an office in London. Switzerland is a fantastic place to start a company and there is easy access to financing. The talent pool for internet/online travel skills is obviously much more limited there and that’s why we’ve opened the London office: to have access to great experienced talent.


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