The Takeoff Episode 02: How Startups Can Adapt and Pivot Sponsored This content is created collaboratively with one of our sponsors.
Many of these angels have some big wins on their resumes, some more than one. They see a huge opportunity in vacation rentals, a high-growth market where there is tons of room for improvements both on the management end, and the guest experience.
TurnKey Vacation Rentals, a marketing and professional-management solution for individual vacation rental owners, picked up $1.5 million in seed funding from an all-star cast of angel investors, including the CEOs of Orbitz, and Zillow, and the founders or co-founders of TripIt, Hotwire, Expedia, Zillow and Glassdoor.
Angel investors include Richard Barton (co-founder Expedia, co-founder Zillow, Benchmark), Alexis De Belloy (HomeAway, Accel executive in residence), Barney Harford (CEO Orbitz), Robert Hohman (Expedia, former CEO Hotwire, co-Founder Glassdoor), Joey Levin (CEO, IAC Search), Karl Peterson (co-founder Hotwire, TPG), Spencer Rascoff (co-Founder Hotwire, CEO Zillow) and Greg Slyngstad (co-Founder Expedia, founder VacationSpot, Kayak board).
In addition to TurnKey co-founder and CEO T.J. Clark and co-founder and executive chairman John Banczak, Hotwire and TripIt co-founder Gregg Brockway and Eric Goldreyer, founder of BeadandBreakfast.com, take seats on the TurnkeyVR board.
Clark, who was corporate counsel for Hotwire in its startup days 13 years ago and previously served as CEO of Limos.com, says Austin-based TurnKeyVR will handle vacation rental owners’ listings on HomeAway, VRBO, Airbnb and Flipkey, perform revenue management functions, as well as take care of all guest interactions, including the booking process and the stay itself, all for a 10% fee.
In addition, TurnKeyVr facilitates the unit’s cleaning, which the guest pays for, and contracts with the owner to handle service issues such as a broken air-conditioner or other problems in the vacation home, Clark says.
“We are trying to be the Walmart of industry pricing, but also with a better level of service,” Clark says, adding that the company has no desire to be a consumer play.
Competitors would include the Evolve Vacation Network, which provides some similar services to owners, and also offers rentals to consumers.
Clark says mobile abilities play a vital role in providing services to owners, as well as guests.
TurnKeyVR uses a “mobile dispatch system” to contract with local plumbers and cleaning services for owners, and on the consumer end, TurnKeyVR offers iPhone and Android apps that provide guests with information such as directions to the property and area attractions.
After booking, guests recieve an invitation to download the app, which also includes the unlock code to enter the vacation home.
Asked what attracted the investors, Clark says they realize that vacation rentals are a booming arena, and that there is great opportunity to improve the management and guest experience.
TurnkeyVR is currently operational in Austin — in HomeAway’s backyard — and will expand from there, Clark says.
TurnKeyVR co-founder Banczak, like Clark, has Hotwire on his resume. Banczak ran airline, car rental and global distribution system operations at Hotwire.
But, more importantly, Banczak was president of BedandBreakfast.com when HomeAway acquired it in 2010, and then joined HomeAway, where he managed the software for professionally property managers, overseeing HomeAway’s acquisitions of Instant Software and Escapia.
Banczak left HomeAway about a year-and-a-half ago.