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Chinese short-term home rental platform Zhubaijia has announced a 200 million RMB ($31 million USD) series B round of financing led by a series of funds, including AB Capital which is backed by Chinese movie star Angelababy. Other participants include CITIC GoldStone, Hong Kong-based investment holding company Neway Group Holdings Limited, and UC Capital. (Chinese Source)

The funding round has attracted attention on the mainland due to Yang Ying “Angelababy’s” capital fund participation, which focusses mainly female lifestyle startups. She invested in Chinese overseas purchasing e-commerce site Ymatou and beverage brand HeyJuice last month.

So how did the company catch Chinese celebrity’s eye? When Angelababy and her husband went overseas to take wedding photos this year, they themselves sought rooms in Zhubaijia and stayed at a mansion in the city center of Paris, sparking her interest in the business.

Founded in 2012, Zhubaijia is a Shenzhen-based online short-term vacation home rental platform focused on Chinese tourists traveling overseas. To differentiate from other similar services, the company targets higher income family travelers who are looking for a more unique travel packages in a higher price range.

Apart from list of beautiful rooms and its price, the website offers a customization option that helps its users to better plan the trip on their budget. When a user fill in simple facts like budget, number of travelers and dates, the company responds back in 24 hours with an optimized vacation plan. Zhubaijia says its listings currently include rental homes in 60 overseas travel destinations like Hong Kong, Taiwan, the U.S., U.K. Australia, Thailand and Singapore.

While it’s easy to compare the Chinese company to Airbnb, Zhang emphasizes that it has its differences. “Apart from the fact that Airbnb is focused on users from all over the world, and we’re focused on Chinese users; Airbnb monetizes by taking the agent’s role and takes commission on host’s earnings, whereas we don’t monetize from our users at all.” says Zhang in an interview with Sina. 

When going on an overseas trips, Zhang says Chinese people spend 40% of their money on accommodation, and the other 60% on local meals, shopping and activities. “Our main revenue comes from value-added services. We collaborate with those local restaurant recommendation services or souvenir delivery services from overseas to China,” Zhang remarks.

Previously, the company received angel investment from Legend Star, a Chinese incubator program launched by Legend Holdings.

Investors are betting big on home-sharing startups as China’s short-term room rental market is expected to be worth 10.5 billion RMB (around $1.69 billion USD) in 2015, up 159.3% year-on-year, according to data from research institute iResearch. Last week, another similar platform Tujia.com secured $300 million USD series D led by All-Stars Investment Limited and Ascott with a valuation of $1 billion USD.

Beijing-based home rental service XiaoZhu.com also said it had completed $60 million USD series C funding led by Joy Capital in July. While XiaoZhu.com is focusing on low budget travelers, both Zhubaijia and Tujia is focusing on high budget travelers. Other Chinese short-term home rental services include Zhuwona and Soufun-backed YouTX, which also provides an English version as well as Chinese and overseas home rental listings. 

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