Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is among the backers of a new hotel start-up known as Habitas which makes 3D-printed hotels.
Habitas aims to be a Club Med for millennials offering all-inclusive holidays. With rooms costing 200-400 dollars per night, its offerings are pitched between traditional hostels and five-star hotels, aimed at millennial tourists looking for a social holiday rather than a “fancy lobby.”
Habitas co-founder Oliver Ripley explained in a press conference that the company builds its own hotel rooms in Mexico using 3D-printing technology. It flat-packs the basic structures of its rooms and ships them to the location for assembly, like Lego, where they can be customized to fit the local environment.
Using this process, the start-up can manufacture 100 rooms per month means and Habitas’ hotels can be constructed within six to nine months. The company can earn a return on investment within two years—far faster than most traditional hotels.
In this funding round, Habitas has raised 20 million dollars to expand its “3D-printed hotel” concept to new markets in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa after first testing the model in Tulum, Mexico.
Aside from Kalanicks’s personal investment fund, entrepreneurs including Tim Steiner, chief executive of online supermarket Ocado; Justin Mateen, the co-founder of dating app Tinder, and Div Turakhia, the Indian ad-tech billionaire, have all backed Habitas, alongside technology investors Maurice Salem, Shervin Pishevar, Mike Novogratz, and Jonathan Teo.
The sense of community that Habitas is trying to build probably spoke to Kalanick’s personality. Kalanick bought a townhouse in the upper hills of San Francisco, which was nicknamed “the Jam Pad,” where like-minded individuals could mingle, brainstorm, or simply hang out.
Ripley expects to have eight locations by the end of the year, with a Namibian hotel due to open this month, and 10 to 12 more a year thereafter. He has recently visited Bhutan and Saudi Arabia to explore further possibilities.
There is much talk that Habitas could expand into franchising or even social housing in the future. The company has set up two subsidiaries to keep its real estate and manufacturing operations separate.