Case Study: Unyoked
Unyoked looks to VentureCrowd to raise $1.2 million in just two hours
Unyoked, a Sydney-based small cabin start-up that’s part of the eco-tourism movement, last year raised $1.2 million in two hours via VentureCrowd. The Series A funding round closed in June 2019, with key investors including co-founder of Luxury Escapes, Adam Schwab.
Unyoked was founded in March 2017, by twin brothers Chris and Cam Grant. They describe their company as being an antidote to modern life, providing an experience of escapism to travellers seeking to rent out their range of private cabins.
With 10 cabins in NSW, 10 in Victoria, and one in Queensland, the start-up is growing across Australia; offering an affordable and eco-friendly escape from reality. With no Wi-Fi or TV, Unyoked instead provides guests with creative creature comforts, including negroni-making kits, yoga mats and books in order to enable its customers to disconnect.
Adopting a similar business model to companies like Getaway in the United States, where landowners host cabins on their property and receive a percentage of the profit made from guest stays, Unyoked additionally donates a percentage of its profits to charity partner the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife; an NGO which aims to protect Australia’s wildlife and wilderness.
In 2019, Cam told the Sydney Morning Herald that he sees Unyoked growing into a global network of cabins that make the wilderness accessible; a combination which he believes is appealing to travellers seeking a unique, local experience.
“We see it as the antidote to modern life and being able to provide little sanctuaries in reach of major cities around Australia."
Unyoked, tiny houses and escapism | eatdrinkplay.com
Opportunities, challenges and future growth
With long customer waiting lists, the brothers revealed that Unyoked had made more than $300,000 profit from only six cabins in 2019, thanks to an occupancy rate of more than 95 per cent. In November 2019, Unyoked said it was targeting annual recurring revenues of over $25 million by 2022.
Whether or not these targets will be greatly impacted by COVID-19 is currently unknown, but with more Australians holidaying closer to home this year, the market opportunity is certainly there. Unyoked has also shown its commitment to navigating the crisis through the release of an official response to the pandemic, highlighting increased cleaning standards, flexible cancellation policies and the facilitation of remote working across its team.
VentureCrowd CEO Steven Maarbani believes that capital will be different, better, stronger, and more conscious in the post COVID-19 world, and that Unyoked is in a great position to reap the rewards from this movement.
“They have essentially created a market segment that did not exist before, and the strong demand for the product indicates the company’s growth has only just begun.”
One surprising supporter to emerge in support of Unyoked after their fundraise was Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey. In his capacity as Creative Director at Liquor brand Wild Turkey, the actor committed to co-designing an eco-friendly cabin called ‘The Reserve’, located in the Central Coast Hinterland NSW. It was launched in December 2019 and can be rented via their website.
Unyoked and McConaughey’s shared purpose in creating the cabin was the want for Australians to simultaneously protect, enjoy, preserve and reconnect with the wild.
In a 2019 statement to Business Insider Australia, McConaughey said:
“My hope now is that The Reserve will inspire Australians to reconnect with nature as an antidote to the frenetic pace of life.”
Since closing its Series A fundraising round, Unyoked has begun plans to use this funding to expand its business and open new cabins Australia-wide. It plans on continuing this momentum by targeting Queensland, eastern Tasmania and the ACT.
Don’t be surprised if you see an Unyoked cabin pop up somewhere near you very soon.