|By Business Wire||
|September 23, 2013 09:07 AM EDT||
Withlocals, the first Asian-oriented peer-to-peer marketplace where locals offer experiences including tours, dining at local homes, and activities to travelers, today announced that it has received $500,000 in funding from Greenhouse Group. The new fundraising will help facilitate Withlocals’ upcoming beta launch, scheduled to take place this fall.
Co-founded in the Netherlands in 2013 by brothers Marijn and Willem Maas, Withlocals is disrupting the Asian travel industry through a first-of-its-kind platform designed to offer travelers unique cultural experiences while empowering hosts to enrich their lives.
“Hosts can earn money with activities they excel in, from cooking favorite meals, to giving meditation courses or offering art gallery tours,” said Willem Maas, Withlocals’ Co-Founder. “Travelers can really enjoy ‘life as a local.’ All this is facilitated in a safe and easy way by the Withlocals’ marketplace.”
The platform is currently open for travel and dining experiences in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. According to data from emarketer.com, online travel sales should grow nearly 200% in the Asia-Pacific by 2016. The company’s co-founders are riding the growth in travel, hoping to fuel a community that will eventually lead to 10,000 new locally hosted home dining spots throughout the region.
Marijn Maas explained that the idea for the platform developed during his honeymoon in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. “After we had dinner day after day in high-end restaurants, we by coincidence experienced a home dinner with local Sri Lankan people. It was amazing, listening to each other’s stories, experiencing their way of living while eating the best food of our trip. I thought, ‘Wouldn't it be great if all travelers could have an experience like this?’ We love the sharing economy and wanted to give travelers and locals in Asia the opportunity to connect with one another.”
Willem Maas, Co-founder of Withlocals, added that research shows consumers are starting to demand more interaction with local communities. “According to ITB World Travel Trends Report, consumers will demand more individual and authentic travel experiences in the future and will rely more on technology to plan their trips,” said Maas. “Withlocals is well-positioned to facilitate these trends for travelers around the world.”
With funding secured, Withlocals plans to launch in beta for a small group of local hosts and travelers in Fall 2013. This group will have the advantage of sampling the first experiences with the service and will lay the groundwork to grow the platform.
Withlocals is a peer-to-peer experience platform that connects travelers with local hosts through unique culinary and truly local experiences in Southeast Asia. Founded in the Netherlands in 2013 to deliver personal, unique, and authentic travel and dining experiences, and the first solely focused in Southeast Asia.