Helsinki startup raises €4M for smart bed legs to outsmart bed bugs

Helsinki-based Valpas has raised €4mn in a seed round to tackle a crawling menace: bed bugs.

The bed bug outbreak in Paris last year spread apocalyptic vibes across the hotel industry and beyond.

Containing the pest infestation proved and remains a challenging task. These insidious hitchhikers travel on clothes and in luggage and spread and multiply rapidly.

For hotels, this doesn’t only entail the cost of extermination. It’s also a cause of revenue loss from reduced or cancelled bookings from travellers wanting to avoid sleepless nights or having to throw their luggage into the pits of hell upon return. Let alone the reputational damage of negative reviews with bed bug experiences.

Among the startups developing anti-bug tech is Valpas. It was founded in 2017 by Martim Gois, Aleksi Jokela, Vertti Sarimaa, and Matti Parkkila, who met at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland.

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Smart bed legs

Valpas has developed smart bed legs that, thanks to their material design, attract and capture the tiny intruders inside.

The startup combines the legs with an IoT and AI-enabled web app that provides real-time image recognition and alerts hotels to the potential arrival of the unwanted guests. This way, accommodations can identify the problem before it reaches an infestation extent, while allowing for a safe stay.

Valpas says its solution doesn’t require any additional integration to WiFi or IT systems. It’s also free of chemicals, promoting a move away from pesticide-products — harmful to both human health and the environment.

The Finnish company is already working with over 300 hotels including Accor Hotels and The Luxury Collection, across more than 40 destinations, which span from European countries to Japan and Mexico.

With the fresh capital, Valpas plans to boost production of its technology and build key partnerships with travel platforms and booking agents.

Zenith VC led the funding round with participation from Icebreaker VC, Finnish Industry Investment, and Canon Marketing Japan MIRAI Fund, among others.

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