Bedbug safety tech scaleup attracts €4m

Valpas, the provider of a tech-based solution for bedbug-safe stays in hotels and rentals, has secured €4m in seed funding led by Zenith VC, alongside Icebreaker VC, Finnish Industry Investment, Canon Marketing Japan MIRAI Fund, Activum SG Ventures, Houghton Street Ventures, Rockaway Ventures and Morrow Ventures.

Already working with over 300 hotels flagged under premium brands including Accor Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Design Hotels, ARP-Hansen and Bob W in over 40 destinations – amongst others across Europe, Mexico and Japan, beginning a revolution by hoteliers to offer guests rooms that are permanently bedbug-safe and pesticide-free via a new ‘hospitality standard’ guarantee.

The investment will primarily be used to ramp up production of Valpas’ tech that ensures rooms are kept bedbug-safe around the clock, ready to meet increased demand ahead of a summer of international sport and travel, headlined by the Paris Olympics and European Football Championship, and beyond. Founded after one of the co-founders carried bedbugs home from a hotel many years ago, the funds will also be used to build key partnerships with travel booking agents and platforms making it easier for travellers to identify and choose bedbug-safe hotels.

Hotels act as ‘superspreaders’ for bedbugs, with one in every 33 hotel rooms infected by travellers carrying bedbugs, costing the hospitality industry €15bn annually. Bedbugs travel in luggage, quickly infest rooms and spread further. Addressing this issue in hotels and other high turnover beds would radically reduce the likelihood of guests taking bedbugs home, thereby improving public safety. Pesticide-based products are also becoming increasingly ineffective - and environmentally unfriendly – with bedbugs only a few years away from full immunity to all currently-available pesticides. Without a pesticide-free solution, bedbugs will create a global public health epidemic within a few years. Alongside the financial burden of carrying an infestation home from a hotel or rental, bedbugs can also cause physical and mental distress, including skin rashes, allergic reactions and anxiety, and have been shown to transmit disease-inducing pathogens.

Valpas’ solution centres on smart anti-bedbug bed legs that free guests from the bed bugs they carry during the first night upon entering a room, before they infect the guest or room, keeping both clean and safe 24/7. Bedbugs, which are attracted to the CO2 humans exhale while sleeping, are lured into the legs by a unique technological material design. Valpas’ IoT and AI-enabled mobile web app then provides in-app image recognition to identify and dispose of the pests. The solution is completely free from any chemicals.

Martim Gois, CEO and Co-Founder of Valpas said: “No travel or home insurance covers the cost and pain of a bedbug infestation at home. Nearly every infestation at home comes after a night in a hotel or rental bed. By staying at a Valpas affiliated hotel, travellers know the room they get is clean and no matter where they go around town the hotel keeps them safe.

“We are on a journey to make every trip bedbug-safe and pesticide-free. There's no other global social and environmental problem that can be solved directly by the proactive intervention of the hospitality industry than the one of bed bugs and the use of indoor pesticides. Hospitality companies that get affiliated early on are reaping the benefits in higher bookings and happier guests.”

Erik Lindblad, Partner and CEO at Zenith VC said: “Valpas is addressing a significant and growing industry challenge with a seamless and effective solution. We believe it is a clear leader in this segment and has the potential to become a global category winner. We are highly impressed with what Martim and the Valpas team have achieved, especially in terms of product excellence and customer satisfaction. The company’s ability to prevent bed bugs without chemicals, ensuring smooth hotel operations and guest safety, creates immense value. We believe Valpas will increasingly become a revenue driver for hotels and travel agents, as guests seek out properties that can guarantee a bedbug-free stay. We are excited to help scale this solution globally."