While AirBnB‘s “Rent a holiday home from a local” formula has proved popular in the US, it’s still relatively unknown elsewhere in the world. Pouncing on this opportunity, Qype founder Stephan Uhrenbacher has launched a European rival based on the same idea – 9flats.
Opening for business today after having been in stealth mode for three months, the service is very much like AirBnB, with accommodation that users can rent directly from owners. The ‘9flats’ name comes from the page design, which will always show nine places to stay. Although, like its more established rival, it offers accommdation around the world, 9flats is specifically targeting the European market.
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However, Germany-based Uhrenbacher is keen for 9flats not to be seen as “Just another European clone of a successful US startup”. He’s focusing on making discovery of perfect places to stay a key USP for the site. At present, this manifests itself through a simple, Hunch-like ‘Match & Magic’ picture quiz to help narrow down your perfect destination, although additional features will be built in over time.
However, if the world ends up just seeing 9flats as an AirBnB clone, that might not be a bad thing. The startup is backed by an undisclosed amount of VC funding from eVenture Capital Partners, a firm experienced in successfully backing ‘clones’. In 2010 three of its investments in the group buying space were acquired by Groupon.
9flats is available to try now here, with a selection of accommodation that takes in Europe, South America and South Africa.