An idea hatched at the Burning Man desert arts festival, the experience-focused hospitality group Habitas was founded in 2014 by Oliver Ripley, Kfir Levy and Eduardo Castillo.
The startup raised $20 million to take its “3D-printed hotel” idea to new markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The concept has already been tested in Tulum, Mexico, where Habitas opened a lifestyle resort and built by local carpenters and artisans using sustainable materials.
Aside from Kalanick, other investors included online supermarket Ocado’s chief executive Tim Steiner; Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen; and Indian ad-tech billionaire Div Turakhia.
Ripley said Habitas could build modular resort-style hotels in six to nine months versus the four to five years to build a traditional hotel. He anticipates eight Habitas locations will be launched by the end of 2020, including a Namibian hotel opening this month. Bhutan and Saudi Arabia are other locations being scouted.
“We are focusing more on the people, the community, the experiences — a little bit like Club Med for our generation,” Ripley told the Financial Times. “What is the equivalent to Club Med for us? Incredible experiences with food, with music, with the right kind of wellness — not the fanciest spa but really just reconnecting.”
The startup uses 3D printing technology to build its hotels in Mexico, where Ripley says 100 rooms per month can be built. “We assemble them like Lego,” he said.
Rooms run $200-$400 nightly, putting Habitas between hostels and five-star hotels, said Ripley.
In the future, the company could advance into social housing or franchising. It has already started two subsidiaries for real estate and manufacturing operations.
Since leaving Uber, Kalanick has launched the startup CloudKitchens and invested in the trucking and logistics startup Kargo. His investment fund is called the 10100 and was founded in March of 2018.