TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring Chile-based Clerk, a cloud-based technology platform for small and medium-size hotels.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Clerk, hotel management is a PMS (property management system) in the Cloud made for small and medium capacity accommodation business of the hospitality industry.
This WebApp includes Booking, front-desk tools, CRM and report activity. Track and supervise from anywhere in the world and give an easy and multitasking system to your employees - without trainings and expensive equipment
This project came out from the experience of managing a boutique hotel and not having an all in one tool that could keep on with our necessities in terms of capacity and budget.
Lead by this idea of fulfilling an hotelier need and combining with our consultancy expertise on web design we founded Clerk in October 2010.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
We developed Clerk as a free time project in the consultancy agency of Web design AyerViernes (www.ayerviernes.com) and as the software was taking shape and importance it became a full time job - making Clerk a startup.
Bootstrapped with $ 150 000 at the beginning by CEO Jorge Barahona. Then Clerk won a seed capital of $ 40 000 from the Corfo (a Chilean institution for entrepreneurship and innovation) when being incubated by the Chrysalis.
Now taking out benefits from subscribers and in the process of raising venture capital.
What problem are you trying to solve?
We want to give the same management system that hotel chains have small and medium size accommodation establishments - with as much features, adapted to their capacities and for a price that they can actually afford. (with free and paid plans)
Be the technological solution for independent hotels, hotel boutiques, lodges, B&B... offering them an all in one tool that fits owners and managers with supervising, reports controls and revenue management features but also a user friendly and powerful management system for employees.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Clerk is a bilingual (English and Spanish for now) online custom user interface service with :
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
- online booking directly connected to the back-end
- front desk record-keeping
- room and capacity organisation
- catering services assigns
- charge and payment tool
- activity report control by day
- for mobile and tablets display
- revenue management
85% percent of hoteliers and accommodation of the world are SME (500.000). They need a system adapted to them and not the ones designed for hotel chains, not only in terms of pricing and usability but also in terms of revenue and hotel management. That is why we say "made by hoteliers for hoteliers".
This SaaS is customer tailored and will continue to develop as clients and tourist demands will be identified.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We created this WebApp inspired by our hotel's (Monterilla.cl) needs and hotelier experiences.
During all the process Clerk was used live and validated step by step by all the hotel team - and all the new ideas of future development are meant to overcome with any small establishment manager wishes (because now not only our hotel is our muse but also all our community of costumers!)
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Clerkhotel.com is based on a Freemium business model, offering a full-festured free access to a limited number of reservations per month (70).
Over this limit, users must subscribe to a paid plan which also operates on a monthly basis, depending on the amount of transactions. All features are available in all plans with no extra cost.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- An enormous market waiting for a solution adapted to their capacity, budget and team (without trainings and equipment).
- 800 subscribers in 42 countries and counting
- A multilingual platform.
- A wide comunity supporting us (our costumers, Hoteliers of Chile association , Inacap-University of hospitality)
- A consultancy agency in web designe and UX endorsing us with constant innovation.
- Not having a strong media and PR that can reach hoteliers of the world
- A target market that is not very advised on technologies
- Fighting a hotel chain software monopolio
- New features
- New markets (French, Portuguese)
- Association with distribution systems
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- New competitors targeting our niche market
No one told us it was a bad idea because at the end of the day we where actually needing a program like this for the hotel. What we’ve been said is that we should develop more things, faster and in new languages.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
We want to keep increasing our number of costumers and reach a 10% of paid subscribers. Translate Clerk in French and Portuguese. Take on those new markets and keep on with our media and comercial strategy in Latin America and USA.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.