Bright Cellars Leading Wine’s DTC Revolution; Airbnb Buy HotelTonight

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DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Bright Cellars leading wine’s DTC revolution; Airbnb buy HotelTonight; and Eargo raise USD$52m.

Bright Cellars leading wine’s DTC revolution

Wine subscription service Bright Cellars has reportedly completed an USD$8.5m (£6.5m) Series A funding round led by Revolution Ventures, with existing investor CSA Partners also participating. The Milwaukee-based provider of personalised wine selections previously raised USD$2m (£1.5m) in seed funding at a USD$7.5m (£5.8m) valuation in 2015.

Bright Cellars sells wines directly to consumers on a monthly subscription basis. While there are many other brands out there following a similar model (and many that have been doing it for longer), Bright Cellars is trying to educate members about which wine they might like so they can figure out these decisions for themselves.

Aside from this, Bright Cellars is looking to tap into the customer data that they possess through their direct-to-consumer model, in order to build a portfolio of its own wines based off customer feedback. The data they collect here, and through their customers’ answers to questions about their wine preferences, is enabling Bright Cellars to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to taste trends in wine.

This looks to be a booming space, too. Consumers spent roughly USD$3bn (£2.3bn) on wine delivered to their doorsteps last year. Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer wine shipments jumped 9% between 2017 and 2018, to 6.3 million cases.

Airbnb buy HotelTonight

Airbnb has acquired hotel booking app, HotelTonight, in a deal which marks Airbnb’s 20th acquisition. HotelTonight raised nearly USD$127m (£98m) from investors.

Looking at Airbnb’s acquisition history, the HotelTonight deal is notable, but not out of left field. As far back as 2011, Airbnb acquired Accoleo, a German company that helps students rent out their spaces to other students. It has also purchased Luxury Retreats, which offers personalised villas; ChangeCoin, which zeroed in on micropayment services; and other competing marketplaces for rental homes like Gaest.

Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, says “a big part of building an end-to-end travel platform is serving every guest, whether they plan their trip a year or a day in advance”. Airbnb has already taken steps along this path, moving away from just offering places to stay, to also offering ‘Experiences’, which the company invested USD$5m (£3.9m) in last year.

Making the entire holiday booking experience easier for customers could be the future for Airbnb. If customers can organise everything for their holiday on one platform, then why would they go anywhere else? Airbnb is perhaps the best-placed platform to do this, already possessing the customer trust, and sufficient capital, to make their move.

Eargo raise USD$52m

Eargo has announced a Series D funding round of more than USD$52m (£40m). The direct-to-consumer health tech company, raised the funds from existing investors such as New Enterprise Associates, and new investors Future Fund, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund.

The company will use the resources from its new investment to further accelerate product innovation, increase awareness of hearing loss and continue to enhance customer experience while driving growth in the domestic market.

Eargo continues to create and innovate the world’s smallest, virtually invisible, rechargeable hearing aids at a reduced cost compared to standard market offerings. Eargo’s mission is to change everything about the hearing aid industry, from how the devices are made, sold and used to how customers are supported throughout their entire hearing journey.

Eargo’s latest round of funding means the Californian business has now raised USD$135.6m (£104.4m) since being founded in 2013. While a clear success story, the wider healthtech market is one which has caught the eye of investors, with USD$2.8bn (£2.2bn) being invested in healthcare startups in September 2018 alone, up 70% from the previous year.