Hotel booking app Blink scores $2.5m in funding

Brent Hoberman knows a thing or two about last-minute bookings, being the co-founder and former CEO of aptly-named British e-commerce legend So it must be particularly heartening for Spanish outfit Blink Booking to have him on board as an investor.

Hoberman’s PROFounders Capital vehicle is one of several investors in a funding round announced on Thursday, which brought in $2.5 million for the mobile-focused last-minute hotel booking service.

Other big names in the round included London’s DN Capital, SoftTech VC’s Jeff Clavier, former American Express global chief Charles Petruccelli and Carlos Domingo, the head of Telefonica Digital.

Not a bad lineup, considering Blink has only had its virtual doors open for the last six months. Already, the company offers last-minute hotel bookings in 39 cities across seven countries (Spain, Italy, Germany, the UK, Portugal, France and Ireland), with more than 400 hotels on its roster.

Customers get a choice of four hotels each night in each city – Blink says it does this so it can negotiate the best rates on exclusive terms, and that Blink reps personally visit the hotels before they are selected.

Blink has seen more than 160,000 downloads of its Android and iOS apps. It also claims to be the largest mobile reservations platform of its kind in Europe, and promises hotels that it’ll be giving them access to more than a million customers by the end of this year.

Going global

This mobile-led strategy is smart – after all, a truly last-minute booking will usually be made on the move – but there are rivals out there. These include Hotel Tonight and Priceline, and it would come as no surprise if Blink used its new reserves to take them on on their home turf.

The company said in the funding announcement that it would use the cash to improve its product and expand internationally. And, of course, most of those investors are from the U.S. and European countries outside of Spain.

Blink co-founder Rebeca Minguela used the funding statement to repeat a now-well-worn truism: that getting VC funding is a pain in mainland Europe.

“In Spain, private funding is more limited than in countries like the U.S. and valuations of start-ups are generally lower,” Minguela said. “This, coupled with bureaucratic obstacles, not only in Spain but in Europe, means that entrepreneurs have to rely on foreign funding or, in many cases, give up on their project.”

Of course, the funding is still there for countries on the Continent, even if it sometimes doesn’t come from local sources. For Hoberman and his co-investors, the Spanish VC scene’s loss might be their gain.