- Belgrade-based hotel management startup OTA Sync’s extended Seed round amounts to EUR 1.3M
- The service is a cloud-based all-in-one platform for managing hotels’ and short-term rentals’ financials, customer feedback, etc.
- The investment will be used to accelerate sales effort in priority markets, including Latin America, and developing new functionalities
This October, Serbian-Estonian hospitality SMB management facilitator OTA Sync announced the closing of its Seed round of investment. The well-known Czech fund Presto Ventures (invested in Spenfi, among others) became the leader of the round. Other investors include the famous Tallinn-based accelerator Startup Wise Guys, accelerators ExpertDojo and Katapult Accelerator, as well as TS Ventures Fund and DSI Group of Business Angels.
Small Town Hospitality Entrepreneurs
OTA Sync’s co-founders Djordje Jevtic (CEO) and Ilija Milovic (CTO) come from Tivat, one of Montenegro’s most famous resorts. The town is fairly small, and almost everybody here works with tourism and hotel or short-term rental management, including OTA Sync’s founders-to-be. Mr Jevtic had experience with big hotels, such as Regent, while Mr Milovic was busy helping local hospitality businesses to improve their web presence, search engine performance, and overall tech stack.
The co-founders met in 2018 at an IT camp where they agreed that the lack of quality IT solutions in hospitality was the biggest obstacle to the development of these verticals in Montenegro and the Adriatic region in general. As for the available IT tools, they were notoriously expensive and too complex for small businesses and their customer support was famously inadequate. Mr Jevtic and Mr Milovic decided that it was up to them to tackle the problem since they had the understanding of the issues and the skill to handle them.
One-Stop Shop for Hotel Management
What they eventually came up with was a cloud-based one-stop shop with a mobile app where hotels and short-term rental businesses can monitor and analyze sales, facilitate the onboarding of new employees, collect and analyze customer feedback, etc.
The system is flexible (this includes tax settings) and can be easily adjusted to any new market. The user-friendly design and a high level of automation allows to onboard new employees faster. This is particularly crucial in a post-pandemic world where much fewer employees are willing to work in the hospitality industry. And the intuitive analytics tool enables users to assess guest data and adjust sales strategy.
‘Our system can be self-customized to suit any different types of businesses by plug-and-use functionalities. OTA Sync’s primary target market are individual small and medium sized hotels with up to 200 accommodation units and hotel chains with up to 50 hotels,’ Mr Jevtic shares.
COVID and Post-Pandemic Recovery of the Hospitality Industry
Even in 2020, before the pandemic was over, OTA Sync reported an increase in demand as the only cloud-based hotel solution in the Western Balkan region, which allowed remote access for users that had to stay at home. In post-pandemic years, with high employee turnover, hotels increasingly looked to automate their business and increase staff productivity, which further contributed to the startup’s growth.
DSI Group’s angel investor and CEO Nebojša Bjelotomić points out that tourism was among the industries that began their outstandingly speedy recovery after the pandemic, and OTA Sync was there to fulfill the market’s apparent need for digital transformation.
‘Post-COVID, the world has seen significant hospitality staff shortages due to pandemic-related layoffs, changing career priorities, and resulting recruitment challenges. To address the staffing deficit, businesses are responding with optimization and automation. Many, however, operate with a legacy tech stack or no tech stack whatsoever. Change is inevitable and we believe OTA Sync’s well-rounded solution will play a significant role in this tech transformation,’ Presto Ventures partner Milan Lupač comments.
Geographic Expansions and Product Development
ITKeyMedia covered OTA Sync’s initial Seed round in June 2022. Fast forward, the startup reports the successful penetration into Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Chile through sales effort aided by local partners.
‘On the development side, we have released dozens of functions – for instance a housekeeping management app and an automated reporting assistant,’ Mr Jevtic adds.
As for the local market, the focus was mostly on Croatia, and over 50 users in the coastal area are now using OTA Sync for managing their businesses. That said, the company admits its focus has shifted significantly towards Spain and Latin America, where it boasts about high organic user base growth. Albania remains one of the markets with a lot of potential, and OTA Sync is currently implementing a plan to grow more in this market.
With the extension of the Seed round, the amount of the investment grew exponentially from EUR 250K to EUR 1.3M.
‘Our decision to invest in OTA Sync stems from our profound belief in their vision and their potential to reshape the hotel industry. This partnership is a testament of their exceptional work that signifies that they’re on the right path towards revolutionizing this sector. We saw the massive potential of the smart hospitality market and believe that OTA Sync will not merely follow the trends – but set them. We were particularly impressed with how their technology streamlines operations for hotels, boosting productivity and accelerating revenue,’ TS Ventures Fund tells ITKeyMedia.
‘Knowledgeable and dedicated team led by two great founders gave confidence to our angel group to invest. Robustness of their go to market model and growth of their business has convinced seasoned VCs to follow the round, and our group firmly believes in the success of OTA Sync,’ Mr Bjelotomić continues.
With the new investment at hand, OTA Sync will continue growing in the Balkan region, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. With this purpose in mind, the startup will invest in partnership management, growth of distributing network, and brand visibility. Additionally, OTA Sync plans to develop new CRM and BI functionalities to help users increase their guest satisfaction and better focus on revenue management.
Kostiantyn is a freelance writer from Crimea but based in Lviv. He loves writing about IT and high tech because those topics are always upbeat and he’s an inherent optimist!