Why Wheelhouse Raised $16mm 💰

May 4, 2022 | Andrew Kitchell

Yesterday, Wheelhouse announced our new financing round, to accelerate the development of our award-winning revenue management & financial intelligence platform.

Our fundraise – led by Highgate Ventures & NEA – had two primary goals:

First, to position Wheelhouse to add more great teammates who can enable us to build & support the next generation of our platform.

Second, to amplify the network of people who can accelerate our learnings, in order to deliver a best-in-class platform for you, your team & our partners.

What this mean for you: Near-Term Deliverables

With this fundraise, we are better positioned than ever to deliver you a scalable, delightful, and highly performant Wheelhouse.

As our first steps, our team will focus on:

1. Improving our Core Offering – Wheelhouse Pro 🚀 

In Q1 alone, Wheelhouse’s product team shipped 30+ features & product enhancements, amplifying a platform that had already won “Innovation of the Year” in 2021. 

With this financing, we expect that cadence of improvements to accelerate. 🙂 

We recognize our community has plenty of ideas & needs from Wheelhouse – advanced features, product lines & integrations – that could drive our clients’ business success.

Therefore, our primary goal post-fundraise is to continue to focus on all these asks, and make our core Wheelhouse offering faster, easier, and more profitable for you than ever.

 2. Amplifying “Wheelhouse Teams” 🏨 

In 2021, professional operators moved the largest portfolios yet on to Wheelhouse.

Therefore, a huge focus on Wheelhouse – both in the last 12 months and moving forward – is to help these scaling teams manage large (1,000+ listing) portfolios on our platform, whether that portfolio is comprised of homes, apartments, a resort, or even hotel rooms.

To do this, Wheelhouse has launched & is developing a range of products to ensure teams can seamlessly use our platform.

This year, we’ve already introduced “Notes & Reminders” to enable teams to collectively share information across listings, rolled out “Copy & Paste”, and re-designed multiple aspects of our software to make managing large portfolios of listings a breeze.

In the coming months, we’re excited to launch a range of features to ensure teams can scale more effectively, while driving the profitability of their portfolio.

3. Launching “Wheelhouse Mid-Length” 📅 

2021 saw the rapid rise of the “30+ day” stay. 

In 2022, the “mid-length stay” trend is accelerating, giving our team increased certainty that mid-length is not just a fad – it’s the future!

A quick slice at market data illustrates that, in many markets, 50%+ of all listings have now accepted a 30+ stay.    

And, with travel patterns & regulations continuing to shift, we believe that figuring out how to attract mid-length travelers could shift from “additive” to a portfolio, to “essential.”

Wheelhouse has been investing in researching this trend since 2021, and in Q2 & Q3 this year, our team will deliver both product & data enhancements to help our customers understand & capture these revenue opportunities.

Lastly, across all of our features & products, our team is working hard to design a more intuitive and seamless interface, so you and your team can more quickly & confidently analyze, adjust, and automate your portfolio’s revenue strategies.

Our primary focus: Building a world-class team

Jasper Ribbers – the founder of Overnight Success – advises his audience, “Don’t think about choosing a software, think about choosing a team!”

We agree.  Therefore, at Wheelhouse, we are laser-focused on building a world class team. 

To prioritize how to build this team, we often ask, “Where would you (our customers) want us to over-invest?”

From that framing, we’ve chosen to over-invest in:

Data Science:  To ensure our pricing engine is best-in-class, transparent, and measured.

Product Design:  To ensure our software is intuitive and easy to use.

Customer Support:  To ensure our team can help you solve any problem, at any time, quickly.

Collectively, we believe these over-investments position our company to achieve our highest objective: To be your team’s most trusted and valuable software partner.

Moving forward, we’ll strive to continue investing in teammates so that you don’t only choose Wheelhouse for our technology, but for the people you interact with while driving your business’s success.

Oh – and did we mention that we’re hiring?!

In the last 2 months, we’ve added top-notch design, data & customer service talent, and you can find more open roles here

Interested in coming aboard?  Please reach out to say hello 🤩 

Our longer-term vision: Creating “Category Defining” Software

In 2021, Wheelhouse won “Innovation of the Year” at DARM, our industry’s leading data & revenue management conference.

As we accepted the award, we noted that our goal for the next year was to both (a) accelerate our pace of development, and (b) to double-down on our commitment of being a transparent & collaborative partner.

With our recent financing, we have crystalized this ambition into a simple goal:  

Wheelhouse aspires to create category-defining software.

We believe achieving this goal will be predicated on three core principles:

Principle #1:  Your Strategy = the Foundation

Your business is unique.

[ Let us repeat that: Your business is unique! ]

This statement is the foundation of every product & design decision we make.

Yes, your business likely shares the same primary goal as most Wheelhouse users (“Increase the profitability of my portfolio”), but the strategy you pursue and the unique challenges & opportunities in your business mean you will (almost always) want to customize how Wheelhouse serves your needs.

Why? 

Your operating capabilities are unique.

Your risk profile is unique.  

Your customers are unique.

Your brand is unique. 

Your market is unique.

Your listings are unique.

All this means that Wheelhouse’s primary goal must be to create a platform that easily enables you to create, evaluate, modify & automate the pricing strategy that works best for you.

Our pledge as we move forward is to continue to listen & build with you as the foundation of Wheelhouse.

Principle #2: The Future will be Flexible

From both a traveler & supply side, Covid forever changed the shape of our industry.

In vacation destinations, operators who knew their market dynamics and the often names of their annual guests were suddenly faced with widely different travel patterns.

In urban areas, demand for short-term stays collapsed, before the emergence of mid-length altered the accommodations & residential real estate landscapes.

However, even prior to the pandemic, change was afoot in these categories. 

The emergence of new hospitality brands (Sonder, Mint House, Zeus, Sentral, Roami, Black Swan, etc.) has been driven primarily by the goal of serving travelers & residents who are seeking flexible, furnished, amenity-rich spaces, available for “2 to 200+” nights.

As noted above, we believe these shifts in travel patterns do not reflect a fad. They reflect the future. 

However, regardless of where our market settles, we believe that travel patterns – and therefore revenue opportunities – will continue to shift, faster than ever, as hospitality products continue to more closely resemble other consumer products, where consumer preferences shift quickly.

Therefore, everything we build at Wheelhouse – from our pricing engine and our data tools, to our software interfaces & product lines – is designed to serve as your future-proofed foundation in this rapidly change world.

Principle #3:  Transparency is Table Stakes

In 2021, Wheelhouse became our category’s first fully transparent pricing platform.

What does “fully transparent” look like?

Wheelhouse publishes extensive pricing engine research.

Wheelhouse surfaces our pricing engine – for each customer – in the product.

All data & updates on Wheelhouse can be audited & exported.

Why does this matter?

Historically, pricing engines have been “black boxes.”    

This lack of transparency means it’s difficult for customers to discern how – or even if – a pricing engine is effectively adjusting prices around evolving market conditions.

Additionally, for years, teams have refused to publish research showing even rudimentary details that would allay concerns about whether teams were investing in the very difficult statistics & ML work required to build an effective pricing engine.

We find this deficiency disappointing, to say the least.

Over time, we expect some aspects of the “black box” era of software will be viewed as risky, insufficient & disingenuous.

Moving forward, transparency must be table stakes for our category. The operators & entrepreneurs in our space deserve nothing less.

Who’s backing Wheelhouse?

As noted above, our goal with this financing was to bring a broad group of investors around the table who can help with everything from hiring to design, data to partnerships.

To that end, the people who backed Wheelhouse include technology investors such as:

➡️ NEA (among the most trusted & respected venture firms, period)

➡️ Signalfire (the leading data-driven venture firm)

➡️ FifthWall (the largest real estate-focused venture firm in the world)

➡️ Axa (a premier financial institution & investor)

➡️ 01 Advisors (a premier SaaS & software investor)

➡️ NFX (the leading network/marketplace venture firm)

and prop-tech leaders & CEOs.

Additionally, the round includes travel, hospitality & real estate leaders such as:

➡️ Highgate Ventures (world-leading hoteliers & revenue management experts)

➡️ Certares (a premier travel/hospitality investment firm)

➡️ PAR Capital (a premier travel/hospitality investment firm)

➡️ JAWS (a premier hospitality & real estate investor)

➡️ RXR (multifamily & technology experts)

➡️ Tishman Speyer (the largest commercial real estate operators in the world)

and other real estate & travel experts.

From the short-term rental space, we’re excited to receive investments from industry leaders such as:

➡️ Ben Edwards (Weatherby Consulting)

➡️ Park Brady (VR/STR expert)

➡️ Jacobie Olin (C2G Advisors)

➡️ Brian Moffatt (Royal Destinations)

➡️ Kris Maichle (Hodnett Cooper) 

➡️ Eric Mason (VR/STR expert)

➡️ Will Lucas (Mint House)

➡️ Andreas King-Geovanis (Sextant Stays)

and other amazing entrepreneurs & operators, all of whom will help ensure we continue to deliver for our core community.

Collectively, our team is grateful for these investors’ support and we look forward to building the next generation of Wheelhouse with them. 🙏

Onwards!

With this financing completed, we’ve been excited to return all our attention to the reason we set out to build Wheelhouse: To build software that truly empowers your business.

We know we have a long journey ahead, but it means the world to us to grow with you and your business.

As we often said on the fundraising trail, “Wheelhouse might look like a pricing platform, but our goal is to be our customers’ most important partner.”

We look forward to continue to earn – and deliver on – your trust, building a better Wheelhouse both for you & with you!

Onwards, 

Andrew Kitchell & Team Wheelhouse

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