Onde Ficar Raises $2M to Expand Software for Booking Hotel Rooms
Just in time for this summer’s 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, San Diego-based Onde Ficar says it has raised $2 million in a Series A funding round to build out its Web-based applications for marketing and managing small and medium-sized hotels.
Onde Ficar, which means “Where to Stay” in Portuguese, is initially targeting hotels in Brazil, where the company says online infrastructure for booking rooms lags behind other countries. While 75 percent of all travel bookings are made via the Internet globally, Onde Ficar says only about 2 million out of 30 million monthly reservations are completed online in Brazil.
Investors include David Kloeppel, the former president of Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), Joe Maxwell, the CEO of Shareholder InSite, the Nashville Capital Network (NCN) Angel Fund II and affiliated investors. Kloeppel also has joined Onde Ficar’s board as chairman.
Onde Ficar estimates that more than 3.3 million tourists are expected to visit Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and the XXXI Olympic Summer Games in 2016.
Onde Ficar CEO Adam Harris tells me by phone that Onde Ficar began under an agreement between the Brazilian Hotel Federation and Digital Arbitrage, a San Diego-based firm Harris founded to develop hospitality applications that enable hotels to offer available rooms to travelers worldwide. The Brazilian Hotel Federation, which is comprised of about 20,000 hotels in Brazil, does not have a stake in Onde Ficar, he added.
Digital Arbitrage, founded in 2012 by Harris and Richard Castle, is the same entity as Onde Ficar, Harris explained. With the Series A funding, Harris says Onde Ficar has essentially become the operating company and brand identity, even as the firm expands its focus in coming years from South America to the United States.
“Our goal is to improve access and exposure for the Brazilian hotel industry using the latest Internet technologies and booking trends in a simple, yet powerful, software package,” Onde Ficar Harris said in a statement.
Kloeppel added, “This influx of capital combined with a dedicated management team and seasoned board of directors position Onde Ficar to make a significant impact in the Brazilian travel market.”
The startup plans to roll out its software as an easy-to-implement and inexpensive tool that enables small- and medium-sized hotels to compete with global hospitality chains. Harris says he doesn’t plan to translate “Onde Ficar” in English-speaking markets, saying acceptance should grow over time—and besides, the name makes about as much sense as Yahoo or Zillow.
The company’s motto, “Sempre O Su Melhor Lugar” might need a translation, though. Google translator tells me it means “Always Your Best Place.”