Vacation Rental Partner Getting It Done
What happens to TechStars companies when Demo Day is over, the investors have left town, and the program has gone into hibernation for the winter? A few weeks ago I got together with Michael Joseph, founder of Vacation Rental Partner, a TechStars Boulder ’10 company to find out what they’ve been up to.
Michael established Vacation Rental Partner as a “scratch your own itch” company to help make vacation rental management easier. He was already managing several Lake Tahoe rentals, including his own, through a property management company he had started. Some time later, he moved to San Francisco, expanded the team to three, and built out 95% of a web application, which was impressive enough to get Vacation Rental Partner into TechStars.
Soon after the team had relocated to Boulder and the program got underway, Michael knew that the 95% the team had already built was off the mark. “For a first time tech entrepreneur,” he notes, “TechStars helped me think about getting something out there and getting feedback.” Michael credits TechStars for instilling a truly entrepreneurial mindset in him.
While the original app was focused on managing logistics, users let the team know that increasing bookings should be the top priority. The team moved quickly and ended up starting over twice to be sure that the product would be simpler and more effective in marketing users’ properties, including two key features:
- Rental property listings get pushed to 20 partner organizations
- Online bookings which allow renters to book properties just as they would a hotel room
How rental property owners have been living without an online booking system is beyond me. Couple that with the fact that listing properties is free and you can see why Vacation Rental Partner provides tremendous value to property owners.
Michael strikes me as a soft spoken, matter-of-fact type of person. When we started talking about what keeps him up at night now that TechStars is over, I got a very straightforward response: Vacation Rental Partner is at a point when it’s time to find out whether this early stage product can mature into a scalable business. No spin, no bullshit, just recognition that there is still plenty of hard work to do. I love that in a founder.
What can you do to help Vacation Rental Partners out? If you or anybody you know could use more bookings, get the vacation rental property listed right away. If you’re a traveller looking for a vacation rental, sign up for great deals on last minute rentals.
Life is a lot less glamourous for Michael now that the TechStars buzz is behind him, but somehow I think that it suits him just fine. I checked in with him a couple of days ago, and he’s focused on building the inventory of vacation rental listings. With that said, it’s time for me to go; I’ll be helping my friend list her Boulder vacation rental into the Vacation Rental Partner system.