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“Switzerland is a fantastic place to start a company”: Interview with Arnaud Bertrand, the CEO of HouseTrip

Last Thursday, Lausanne-based Housetrip, one of Europe’s leading holiday apartment websites, announced a $17 million Series B funding round. This particular round was led by Balderton Capital, and participated in by an investor consortium including existing investor Index Ventures, who reinvested pro-rata. Tim Bunting of Balderton Capital will join the existing board, which includes Neil Rimer of Index Ventures, and HouseTrip.com founders Arnaud Bertrand and Junjun Chen.

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.

To find out more about this up-and-coming proptech startup, we recently had the chance to do a short interview with HouseTrip’s Founder and CEO, Arnaud Bertrand. If you’re working in rentals sector or bookings sites, or are curious about their recent funding round, read on!

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?

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 only available (i.e. you stay in a spare room at someone’s place).

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?

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 translation localisation).

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

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

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?

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

How many people are currently working for HouseTrip and how do you support the corporate culture in such a rapidly growing company?

We are currently 70 people working at the company. 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 and traditions, as well as employee recognition and rewards around these values.

You have just moved your headquarters over to London from Switzerland. Can you tell us about your experience with Lausanne as a location to start up a company and why did you choose to relocate to London?

Our headquarters didn’t move, we are still a Swiss company; we have simply 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 and 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.

By the way: You can find out about other interesting startups from Switzerland in this list

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Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).

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