Fundraising Questions and Answers: Vacayrx
As an entrepreneur it is always an exciting, and scary, time when you begin looking for investment capital to accelerate your growth. It is also a unique challenge to maintain focus on everyday business operations when fundraising itself can be a full-time job. For any entrepreneur considering starting a business, or looking to begin the fundraising process, it is quite likely that you will encounter several layers of screening before you even get a chance to pitch. To give fellow entrepreneurs an idea of what these questions may look like, and the answers that may be expected, we used our experience here at Vacayrx to shed some light. We hope this can be helpful and get you thinking about the nuances of your business and what makes you stand out from the competition!
What do you do?
We are an online marketplace that connects vacation rental owners, managers, and guests. We focus on the higher-touch elements of the business allowing direct communication between owners/managers and their guests, pre-booking, which has been all but eliminated on the larger platforms in our industry. This communication allows for better guest screening, expectation setting, and a higher level of service which is an integral part of the business. We also have a strong focus on transparency, particularly when it comes to service fees, which are completely ambiguous on most platforms in the industry. With this transparency we offer significant cost savings and clearer expectations to our users.
What is your market penetration?
We currently feature 3,000 Live properties in the 30 US States and a few properties in Canada. Our platform can easily accommodate listings and users worldwide and the vacation rental industry is expected to balloon into a $194B industry by 2021. Our largest competitors claim between 1.4M and 3.2M property listings, indicating a very large market opportunity and plenty of room for growth. Our goal is to reach 10,000 Live properties by YE 2018 which will validate us as a true alternative.
Why are you different than your competitors?
We allow property owners and managers to have greater control over their home(s) by allowing pre-booking communications with guests. In an effort to force more transactions through their pipeline, faster, our competitors have eliminated this high-touch aspect of the business and there has been massive push-back from the end user. These companies have also acquired almost all other companies in the space leaving little room for alternatives or differentiation.
Who are your existing clients?
We have found fantastic early traction with professional property managers who have a responsibility to their homeowners to protect the properties. Because guest screening has been eliminated on the other platforms, this resonates very well with them, and has allowed us to grow very rapidly in a number of key markets. Once we have a solid distribution of property managers throughout the country we have large stockpiles of individual homeowner data which we can also use to grow our inventory.
What makes you special?
We offer a platform that allows property owners and managers to list their properties and make them available for guests to book. Guests who come to our site can enjoy a robust portfolio of quality vacation rental properties and be assured that they can interact directly with a property owner or manager before committing, to ensure that the property matches their exact specifications and needs. With increased transparency and predictable price points we also offer significant cost savings.
Who are your early adopters?
We have initiated our go-to-market strategy by working closely with professional property managers throughout the US. It has been gratifying to see users from all corners of the country have validated our concerns about the direction that the industry has taken and are excited/willing to try an alternative platform to restore this control. As we continue our growth we will have an increased effort to try more digital marketing strategies and recently were invited to Google’s Advantage program
What makes your team qualified?
Our Founder, Jesse has spent his career in entrepreneurial roles with early-growth startups including roles at three Inc. 500 companies, (two in the vacation rental space). Jesse remains closely aligned with many of the key players in the industry and has led business development roles that allow for strong relationship building and an ever-expanding Rolodex of key contacts.
Amr and Sam have both participated Venture backed companies and demonstrate strong problem solving abilities and remarkable work ethic.
What is your competitive advantage?
Our greatest competitive advantage is our timing. Over the past year few new entrants have emerged in the space; as it requires a rare combination of industry understanding, experience, and technical knowledge to create a similar platform. We also believe we are one of (if not the only) companies who has collected as much relevant user date which will prove to immensely valuable for us in the future. Without this data, a competitor would have to pay substantial amounts to engage this user base.