The Plum Guide raises £5.7m Series A to test London’s best holiday homes

The Startups 100-ranked business, founded just over two years ago, says it has achieved "runaway growth" since launch in February 2016

The Plum Guide, a London-based start-up that tests and curates London’s best holiday homes, has raised £5.7m worth of Series A funding.

Primarily backed by Octopus Ventures, the travel tech business has now raised £6m to date – previously bagging seed funding from Local Globe – while new investors also included BGF Ventures and the founders of Secret Escapes, ZOOPLA, and Love Film.

Awarded a place in the Startups 100 list of 2017, The Plum Guide says its achieved “runaway growth” in recent times, claiming to have averaged 20% sales growth every month since launch in February 2016 – with an “ambitious roll-out” to more cities planned in the next 18 months.

Originally called PLU&M, which stood for “People Like You & Me”, Plum’s ‘Home Critics’ – experts with backgrounds in hospitality, design and luxury travel – ‘test’ the top rated homes from over 25 different booking platforms.

Homes are scored on soft criteria like design features and sociability, as well as hard criteria like the height of the shower head and the strength of the WiFi speeds, with over 500 data points collected on every home.

Only 1% of homes pass The Plum Test and are listed on the platform, with a stringent process for feedback and retesting to ensure homes and hosts retain their high standards.

Having reviewed 71,571 properties to date, just 1,084 have been accepted onto ‘The Plum Guide’.

Aiming to establish itself as “the definitive seal of quality in the homestay sector”, the start-up will seek to utlise its increased property and consumer datasets to better match travelers with their dream homes.

Founded by Doron Meyassed, Imran Arshed, Alex Lee and Arif Meherali in December 2015, the idea for The Plum Guide was conceived after the co-founders booked a last minute trip to Tel Aviv.

Booking an apartment with a worrying low number of online reviews, the team expected nothing short of a miserable stay – but couldn’t have been more wrong.

Staying in an immaculate sea-facing apartment, and met with fresh fruit and hummus every morning by their host, the quintet began to wonder how many more hidden treasures were lost in millions of online listings of holiday homes and apartments.

Doron Meyassed, co-founder of The Plum Guide, said:

“We are on a mission to build a marketplace of the world’s most beautiful holiday homes. For real. I say for real, because this isn’t some vague qualitative ambition. We mean it.

“We are taking a systematic and obsessive approach to vetting every single home on the planet and accepting only the top 1%. For a home to be accepted it has to pass 150 criteria.

“These criteria, which we call “The Science & Art Behind The Perfect Stay” represent what we believe are the ingredients of the perfect stay.

“They have been devised by collecting over 541,000 data points across 1,082 London homes (to date) on what makes this all-elusive perfect stay.

“We’re incredibly excited about using this funding to roll out Plum internationally and doubling down on optimising The Science and Art Behind the perfect stay.”

Harry Briggs, of BGF Ventures, said:

“As more and more sophisticated travellers want to stay in homes rather than hotels, the world is crying out for a truly independent arbiter of the finest homes…

“Just as people hunt down a Michelin-starred restaurant or an Oscar-winning movie, Plum Guide’s customers can book with the confidence that they’re going to stay in a beautifully designed home in a lovely part of town, with no unpleasant surprises – whilst the Plum homeowners can at last stand out from the mass of average or mis-sold properties that flood home rental sites.

“We’re hugely excited about helping Plum Guide expand to more of the world’s most visited cities, so that discerning guests can choose a Plum Guide home wherever they travel.”