Among China’s Airbnb Clones, It’s a Battle Between Ants and Little Piggies

China Airbnb clones, Mayi

And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way to series A funding.

Our first two bits of Chinese startup funding news of 2013 could not have gone to companies with weirder names. Beijing-based (meaning “little piggy” in Chinese) is actually a short-term rentals site in the mold of Airbnb. Today Xiaozhu revealed that it brought home the bacon recently with “nearly US$10 million” in series A funding.

Likewise, the similar (meaning “ants”) disclosed that it had been spun off as an independent entity from its parent company, Ganji, and also secured about $10 million in backing. Mayi’s round is led by VantagePoint, with participation from BlueRun Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

The growth and progress of Xiaozhu is pretty impressive for a travel site that only launched in August of last year. The investors in its initial major round haven’t been revealed yet. Xiaozhu has properties in 13 Chinese cities thus far. But it’s not just focused on China’s middle-classes and fancy homes (like the one pictured above), and even has listings in places like student dorms for a few bucks per night.

China Airbnb clones, Mayi

A property on Mayi. Click to enlarge.

As for Mayi (pictured right), it claims to have surpassed 300,000 rented room nights in its first year of operations. But if its commission is 10 percent, then it’s difficult to see how short-term rentals can actually be profitable for startups once they’ve splashed out on prohibitive marketing campaigns.

The good news for these two curiously-named travel rivals comes eight months after series A funding for the site that will surely be the nemesis of both sites: Tujia. It attracted interest and funds from China’s biggest online travel company, Ctrip, and followed that up by adding over 2,000 overseas listings in conjunction with its American co-investor HomeAway.

The double investment whammy for Xiaozhu and Mayi is sure to shine a spotlight on the Chinese holiday rentals industry, which has so far been overshadowed by a lot more dynamism in Southeast Asia, with lots of recent action from Travelmob, 9Flats, and Airbnb itself.

(Source: Donews – article in Chinese)

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