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Bob W: Tech-driven hospitality provider

How Bob convinced us with a whole new experience in hospitality! 
“Hi Michal, Hope you had a good trip. This is Bob. I will make your stay exceptional….” These were the first words Bob said to us. And he would hold his promise.

  • By Elevator Ventures
  • 4 min read

Bob W, based in Helsinki and Tallinn is redefining hospitality with its innovative alternative to hotels and short-stay rentals. Its exceptionally cool short-stay accommodation caters to a new class of travelers who are used to the ease and flexibility of Airbnb but want hotel standard quality with authentic flair and affordability of a short-stay rental. They combine the best of both worlds with their tech-powered and sustainably operated properties in Europe’s most interesting neighborhoods.

Our stay with Bob W went on and we were able to try neighboring cafes and restaurants. Bob W seemed to know upfront what we were searching for and was the best host we had ever experienced. Also being able to use facilities like a brand-new neighboring gym was a great surprise.

When we met with the two founders Niko Karstikko and Sebastian Emberger, they told us about the first years of Bob W and we were impressed: despite being founded just before the global Covid pandemic, Bob W quickly became a rising star in the hospitality space, seeing astonishing revenue growth, along with excellent margins, whilst achieving an average guest rating of 4.8 (out of 5) and a net promoter score of close to 90. The founders seemed to be obsessed with improving customer experience and automation through their technology to create a highly personalized guest journey, creating rich guest profiles, and offering a 5-star experience with fully autonomous operations.

Elevator Ventures’ Michal and Galyna with Bob W’s founders Niko and Sebastian.
Elevator Ventures’ Michal and Galyna with Bob W’s founders Niko and Sebastian.

In addition to the convincing attitude of the founders, the numbers they produced supported what they had told us. Occupancy rates across all Bob W are above the market rates right after launching the property. Also, looking at the revPAR in just more than a year, Bob W was able to outperform some of the largest luxury hotel companies. The customer retention numbers were great, and most of them simply used Bob W again without looking at other booking sites.

Climate neutrality first!

Attributing to their success, Bob W is the first international climate-neutral hospitality provider. Every single night stay with Bob W is climate neutral. As the co-founders of Bob W, Niko and Sebastian embraced their climate duty, Bob W is involved in more than thirty programs aimed at further minimizing their negative environmental impact. From buying 100% renewable energy for all apartments to sourcing furniture made of sustainable materials from local providers, even the toiletries provided are environmentally friendly.

Benefiting from turbulence on the real estate market

The real estate market has been disrupted over the last few years, first, the Covid pandemic questioned the usage of many office and hotel buildings, and now the rising interest rates make some real estate development projects unviable. In such an environment, Bob W excelled and proved that they could turn underperforming real estate into high-performing Bob W hotels. They have developed a platform and business model to offer asset managers an automated hotel at scale, doing away with the inconsistent accommodations and antiquated technology offered by tiny mom-and-pop lodging establishments.

Bob W is today managing properties in 6 different countries by taking on long-term leases for whole assets or complete floors. Usually, the properties are existing hotel or apart-hotel assets, vacant office spaces or new development, with Bob W aiming at 15+ units per property. They then decorate the interior to reflect the local culture of the city.

Value is generated for property owners because they enjoy no vacancy or turnover costs, accelerated lease-ups during development phases, and a business model that is downturn proof with low operating costs in comparison to hotels. Consequently, properties operated by Bob are simply worth more than those leased to other brands.

After consulting with real estate experts and discussing the market potential in Raiffeisen Bank International’s core countries, we were convinced to invest in Bob W’s recent €21 million series A funding round, led by IDC Ventures, and Verve Ventures, Tigrim, Flashpoint and several family offices. The funding enables them to further accelerate their expansion into new and existing markets, and scale their autonomous full-stack tech platform all over Europe. Bob W currently operates in Tallinn, Tartu, Oslo, Helsinki, London, Madrid and Florence, with expansion plans containing Amsterdam, Cologne, Milan and many more.

We can’t wait to see how Bob W’s innovations will change the way we travel for both work and pleasure. But hold on, why not enjoy the convenience of both? Keep an eye out for this one!

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