[Ventureburn] Norwegian Håvar Bauck’s Kenyan startup HotelOnline announces it’s raised $320k

Håvar Bauck, the Norwegian entrepreneur who hit the news earlier this year over his dealings with controversial Polish tech entrepreneur Marek Zmyslowski announced yesterday that his Kenyan travel tech startup HotelOnline had raised $320 000.

The company provides solutions for e-commerce and digital marketing to more than 1500 hotels in 18 markets across Africa and South Asia.

The new investment was raised from existing shareholders (according to Bauck these include 68 shareholders mainly from Norway, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Poland) and two new investors — Shravan Shroff, the co-founder of India’s first angel investor-backed start-up accelerator, Venture Nursery and Norwegian investor Trond Riiber Knudsen. Shroff has joined HotelOnline’s board.

The latest announcement comes after last month Bauck (pictured above) revealed that he was behind a merger deal between two small Kenyan travel startups in Cloud9xp and HeartBeat Adventures(see this story).

Bauck has taken the role of chairman of the merged entity, Cloud9xp, while Heartbeat Adventures founder Winnie Kimathi has been appointed as the company’s new managing director.

Shravan Shroff and Trond Riiber Knudsen took part in a $320k investment in HotelOnline

HotelOnline was launched in 2014 by Norwegians Bauck and Endre Opdal, initially as Savannah Sunrise, before the name changed to HotelOnline in 2017.

Bauck, who is the company’s deputy chairman (previously he was the chairman, before Tore Hofstad, a Norwegian startup investor took over), hit the news in Ventureburn in February when the controversial Zmyslowski in 2017 tried to conclude a deal to merge his startup with Bauck’s (see this story, this one and this one).

The Norwegian’s company, Savanna Sunrise did in the end merge with a Polish entity, Hotel Online sp. z.o.o, in the same year and formed a new entity, HotelOnline

Indian publication BusinessWorld reported in an article yesterday that HotelOnline is currently breaking even.

Editor’s note (15 July 2019): This story was updated to include details on HotelOnline’s shareholders, provided by the company’s deputy chairman Håvar Bauck, after an enquiry from Ventureburn subsequent to the publication of this article.

According to Bauck, the founders, he and Endre Opdal have a combined 49% stake in the company — each of equal shareholding. There are a total of 68 shareholders, mainly from Norway, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Poland, with about half of these being Norwegian business angels.

Nnamdi Agbim has recently joined as an advisor to the board, representing the Nigerian shareholder group. The Senegalese shareholder group is represented on the board by Eric Osiakwan, who is a serial investor in African startups.

HotelOnline’s new chairman is Tore Hofstad, the third biggest shareholder. According to Bauck he is “a Norwegian startup investor, with several recent successful exits”.

Other key shareholders include a US traveltech firm, a Polish VC and Norwegian family office Stratel.

Featured image: HotelOnline co-founder Håvar Bauck (Facebook)

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