Three competing short-term rental business owners met at a round-table to discuss how they could survive the imminent rise of Airbnb. They came up with a software solution. Now, Rentals United helps property managers in 160 countries to gain time and make more bookings. Oh, and they’re a preferred partner of Airbnb… how’s that for full circle.
This is the story of how three entrepreneurs went from directly competing with each other to launching a company together and securing $4.2 million dollars in VC funding to help build the future of the vacation rental industry. They created Rentals United based on a simple idea: create a channel management software that is easy to use and accessible to every vacation rental professional.
Here’s their story, from the dark cellar office to the successful start-up with almost 100 employees in 3 locations.
James and Vanessa previously created a vacation rental agency in Rome with literally every penny they had in their pockets. It was a make or break situation: make the pennys work or pack their bags, go back to London and find a run of the mill job. Luckily they were making profit from day 1 and were quite successful for the first few years.
Now simultaneously in Warsaw there was Emil, who started as an IT guy at a vacation rental agency and was promoted in 4 years to no less than CEO, heading a 90 people-strong company at age 24. Then bad luck struck and he spent 2 years in hospital thinking about what’s next.
IF YOU CAN’T WIN, COME TOGETHER
Meanwhile Airbnb was receiving large investments and turning the industry on its head, and consequently the mid-size short-term companies were struggling to compete with their marketing budgets. So when Emil was discharged from the hospital, he decided to contact competitors to “come together at a round-table to discuss how, as small- to medium-sized agencies, we will survive the giants”. He sent invites one-by-one and decided that when he had 4 interested he would stop. James and Vanessa were number 3.
At the round table a plan was drawn. Competitor one, two and four soon vanished. Emil, James and Vanessa remained. Rentals United was born.
The first few months of Rentals United was spent in a dark cellar (literally!) and with a hoard of interns, cold-calling property managers around the world. When a semblance of traction was detected, a first angel investor was found who funded a new, slightly less-dark office. Fast-forward 3 years, and we are writing this article from our large and shiny office in Barcelona having just secured $4,2M in VC investment.
BUILD ON PARTNERSHIPS
Our story is one of a successful partnership born of collaboration and forward-thought, and our origins still drives us today. We partner with over 100 tech businesses, many of whom are only a few degrees off from being considered competitors. We believe that partnering with a diverse group of companies can only help our customers become more successful.
As a result, we have expanded on the channel management business and now offer a growing family of third party services that work together with Rentals United to improve a property manager’s workflow. From setting the right price via yield management software to automatically sending timely messages to guests via guest communication platforms and, even booking the cleaner via housekeeping software, the Rentals United marketplace is growing month by month.
Today, our business spans 160 countries, with over 250,000 vacation rentals distributed. Join us and start automating.