FinSMEs: Hi Nakul, can you tell us a bit more about you? What’s your background?
Nakul: I have spent all my professional life in the hospitality industry. I have worked in hotel operations as well global strategy team at some of the biggest and most respected hotel companies, Starwood and Intercontinental Hotels Group. Gradutated top of the class from Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland in 2005 and then got an MBA from INSEAD in France in 2011.
FinSMEs: Let’s speak about Hostmaker. Which problem do you want to solve?
Nakul: Hosting on Airbnb is a full time job – Listing your home and pricing it right to attract the right guest, coordinating housekeeping, washing linen, exchanging keys, maintenance issues etc. - There are far too many things that are left to chance or to an inexperienced host. Hostmaker operates a professional hotel-style operation that takes the pain out of hosting and ensures guests have a memorable stay.
FinSMEs: A large market?
Nakul: The homestay category has been transformed over the last decade by the growing popularity of Airbnb with over a million listings worldwide. Whilst homes offer a unique and local experience to travellers, there is still a vast inconsistency in basic service standards. The uncertainty of not knowing what you are going to get is still a hurdle for many to book a home on Airbnb.
FinSMEs: How does the platform work?
Nakul: Hostmaker offers hosts two options – a flat-fee pay-as-you-go model, where existing Airbnb hosts can pick a premium hotel-style housekeeping and linen service or an in-person guest welcome in their absence, or a fully managed option where Hostmaker provides an end-to-end service. The latter option involves the setting up of the listing, responding to enquiries promptly, setting prices and managing yield, presentation of the home before the guest arrives and managing the guest experience so that guests have an unforgettable stay.
FinSMEs: Where are you in terms of growth?
Nakul: Hostmaker was founded in December 2013 in London, launched in July 2014. We are currently offering our Airbnb management services in London, Barcelona and Rome – serving about 5000 guests every month and employing 50 people.
FinSMEs: You just raised a seed round. How are you using the funds?
Nakul: The funding will be used for product enhancements and phase two of our expansion to other European capitals. Hostmaker will continue to focus and build on its price optimisation tools to deliver value to hosts and operations platform to make logistics more efficient.