Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with William Crock, co-founder and COO of Hometime.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Hometime is A/NZ’s largest and fastest growing property management company for the short-term rental market exclusively using Airbnb. It is also the only company in Asia and Australia to enjoy an official partnership with Airbnb.
The property management platform assists hosts to enable them to “put their Airbnb properties on autopilot” by handling all aspects of the hosting experience. From property management to housekeeping, Hometime keeps occupancy levels high, guests happy and hosts earning extra income.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We are VC backed and have used the capital to invest into growing the team and refining our technology. This has allowed us to turbocharge our growth in our launch markets of Sydney and Melbourne and expand into a further five markets across Australia and New Zealand.
The industry is also highly fragmented with low barriers to entry, however, there are considerable barriers to scale given operational complexities. As such, consolidation plays a big part of our growth strategy and we've already made several acquisitions including larger players like Hey Tom and Hostkeep.
Our partnerships with Airbnb, McGrath and other real estate players has increased brand awareness and streamlined our B2C and B2B customer acquisition, which has all contributed to accelerated growth.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Hometime is the largest and fastest growing service provider in Australia & New Zealand. We manage a vast portfolio across seven cities in Australia and New Zealand and have over 100 staff working across 5 timezones. A large portion of these work remotely and, as such, we operate a 24/7 service business from the cloud.
We have a highly differentiated business model that allows us to deliver a personalised service at scale. Hometime customers are paired with a local account manager who remains their point of contact throughout the relationship. We then provide our account managers with the best tools and a centralised support team to ensure we get the best performance from the property.
We are currently the only official Airbnb partner in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Requirements for this accreditation are +75% 5-star reviews and ability to scale to thousands of properties – something no other short term rental management service has been able to do in this market yet.
At Hometime we use sophisticated technology to deliver exceptional service level at scale. This involves coordinating hundreds of on-the-ground contractors through the Hometime app to facilitate all parts of the hosting experiences, from delivering linen, housekeeping and maintenance to meet and greets, and professional photography.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
We’ve spent two years refining the business model and assembling the core functions required to scale (marketing, product team, centralised support teams). We are now in a fantastic place where we are growing quickly and delivering a fantastic service.
The biggest challenge ahead lies in aggressive expansion into new markets which will require growing our pool of property managers. Growing a dispersed team presents resourcing and recruitment challenges and requires special attention to ensure we preserve our company culture.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Slack: Having a dispersed team means communication is key. Slack connects all the business units and connects via API with our platform so everyone is notified of events appropriate to their role.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
It sounds simple but “don’t be the business.” As a young founder it’s necessary to get involved with all aspects of the business because you don’t have people in all the required roles. Get out of the business as soon as you can and work on it. Focus on building the team around you to make yourself redundant, there is always more high level tasks to focus on.