Former BuyWithMe CEO Cheryl Rosner raises $2.4 million for a stealthy travel startup called Stayful

By Erin Griffith , written on April 2, 2013

From The News Desk

Cheryl Rosner has raised $2.4 million for her next journey, a stealth-mode travel startup called Stayful, based in New York, according to an SEC filing. Canan Partners investor John Balen is listed on the filing as a director (meaning the firm likely invested), as is Rosner's co-founder Shariq Minhas, a former VP of engineering at FanIQ and manager at Expedia and

Drew Patterson, the founder of Jetsetter who recently joined Room 77 as its CEO, and Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels, are listed on the company's website as "helping friends."

The Stayful beta site was taken down after I emailed asking for more information. (I did not hear back as of publication time but will update this post if I do.) When I first visited this afternoon, the site included an explanation of Stayful's mission as an online marketplace connecting travelers to local boutique hotels:

As boutique hotel customers, we know how hard it is to find a great deal at a special boutique in a new city. Particularly if you are travelling soon.

And we also know boutique hotels are always looking for great, new customers just like you to offer them rooms that might otherwise go unsold.

So we built Stayful, the first online travel site focused on boutique hotels with a unique bidding system that allows consumers to find and stay at the best hotels at a great price. The site offers rooms that are available within the next 30 days. For more on the idea, check out a manifesto which was posted to Stayful's Wordpress blog in February.

Rosner previously served as the CEO of BuyWithMe, a daily deals site that raised $31.5 million and acquired six different competitors to become the third-largest in its market after Groupon and LivingSocial. Rosner left in 2010, while the daily deals fad was still in the height of its glory. BuyWithMe later flamed out, laying off most of its staff and selling to Gilt Groupe as part of Gilt City. Gilt City then experienced its own turmoil, shutting down several markets and scaling back plans for expansion.

Prior to BuyWithMe, Rosner was CEO and President of ticket reseller TicketsNow, which in 2008 sold to Ticketmaster for $265 million. Before that, Rosner was President of Expedia Corporate Travel.

[Image via Nomad Hotel]