Vintory claims it is the first and only company to focus exclusively on helping vacation rental managers grow their inventory.
Founded in 2019, Vintory uses a mix of software and professional services to help vacation rental managers target, capture and convert leads, says founder and CEO D. Brooke Pfautz.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
If you had 10 more properties could you book them? 99.9% of property managers answer this question with a resounding yes! As a professional vacation rental manager, you can’t generate any revenue without properties to rent. But, for years, the hundreds of software companies in the vacation rental space have focused almost exclusively on helping vacation rental managers (VRMs) get more bookings (and manage those bookings). Vintory is the first and only company to focus exclusively on helping VRMs grow their inventory of homes.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
We help VRMs grow their inventory through a mix of software and professional services.
Target smarter first: We use our property intelligence data system to help VRMs identify second homes in their market and then get homeowner contact data, like primary addresses, phone numbers and even emails.
Capture faster next: We use that data to unlock new marketing channels for VRMs, like cold email, custom audience social media advertising, IP targeting (based on primary address), postcards, handwritten letters, etc. And, then we add those new channels to traditional keyword and interest-based marketing channels, like SEO, PPC, retargeting, realtor outreach and referral programs, etc. This creates an omni-channel marketing approach that helps increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Convert more: Finally, we use our software to help them convert more leads. Our software helps VRMs create landing pages and chatbots, as well as track inbound phone calls. When a lead is created, our system can automatically respond with call transfers, emails campaigns, SMS campaigns, ringless voicemail drops, etc. VRMs can use the software to manage all their leads in one place, communicate with them across their teams and across all channels all in one place, automate contracts, design marketing materials and pro formas, track the performance of their campaigns and a lot more.
On top of all this, we bake in our best practices and aggregate insights from running thousands of campaigns for professional managers.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
Strengths: Incredibly talented team, first-to-market product, early brand strength, high growth rate and great initial traction.
Weaknesses: To this point, we’ve been bootstrapped, so we don’t have the same treasure chest as a venture-backed company would.
Opportunities: Inventory supply has become a major industry focus, and we’re in an excellent position to be a central conduit between vacation homeowners and the services they need to rent their homes. There’s also a huge opportunity to expand into international markets.
Threats: As with every business in the pandemic, COVID-19 is always a threat, but we were able to make it through 2020 and come out the other side better. An additional threat is future competition, but we’re laser-focused on being first to scale and have a good head start.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Traveler demand for vacation rentals is at an all-time high. But, the current supply isn’t adequate to meet that demand. Our goal is to connect potential supply (second homes) to professional managers, so those homes can not only be rented out, but rented with the first-class hospitality service that professional managers offer.
And, we’re not just focusing on current vacation rentals, either. We market to any second home that isn’t being used as a primary residence. Our goal isn’t just to reshuffle inventory between managers or to convince “rent by owners” to work with professional managers; it’s actually to help increase the overall supply of vacation rentals.
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Our vision is to accelerate the growth of the vacation rental market to become the preferred place to travel, work, play, dream, rest and invest.
We believe that local, independent professional managers offer the best service to guests. But, if you’ve ever met a VRM (I used to be one), you know they are working all the time - delivering on that guest experience. Most don’t have time to focus on inventory acquisition, and many don’t have the tools or the expertise needed to grow their inventory. That’s where we come in.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We’ve been fortunate to have really amazing early growth. We’ve leveraged a lot of the same marketing tactics that we use for VRMs to grow Vintory. Over the past 12 months we’ve had incredible PR - being featured multiple times in industry publications like VRM Intel, Rental Scale-Up, VRTECH and more. In addition to digital marketing, advertising, PR, conference presence and word of mouth, we’ve always been focused on becoming the trusted source to help educate VRMs on how to grow their inventory, regardless if they use our software and services.
Our brand presence continues to grow, our reputation is solid and more VRMs are interested in our services as we continue to share our testimonials, case studies and proof points.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
The funny thing is that the need for VRMs to grow their inventory has always been there. We’re just the first company to focus on it.
As a past owner of a VRM company, I ran into this problem myself. I had no idea how to grow my inventory and no one to help teach me how. So, I had to figure it out myself. And through trial and error, I was able to grow our inventory from zero homes to 500 properties under management in about five years.
After selling my stake in that company, I worked in leadership roles at other companies in the industry and kept seeing first-hand how many VRMs struggle with growing their inventory. I always expected some company to step in with a solution, but no one did. So, we decided to step up and help. And, that’s how Vintory was born.
How and when will you make money?
We’re already making money. Our focus though is to reinvest in technology and growth, so we can maintain and extend our lead in this niche.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
I talked about my own experience a little earlier. But, I would say that our core team has expertise in three main areas: vacation rental management, SaaS and marketing/sales. We like to say, “get over 200 years of combined experience in vacation rental expertise in your pocket.” The team that we’ve assembled includes some of the best talent in the vacation rental space. We have tons of team members with experience working at leading vacation rental management companies and major software companies in the vacation rental space. Many of them have proven track records of helping these companies rapidly scale.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
Today, simply stating you are inclusive isn’t enough. We work to remove bias and barriers and have zero tolerance for anything but respect and belonging, no matter who you are. Building an inclusive culture is a work in progress. Here’s a bit about how we uphold and protect this value:
- We believe that diversity is a key component to innovation. When you’re trying to solve a problem, you need to look at it from multiple angles. Our past experiences, backgrounds and culture affect the way we attack these problems.
- We practice inclusive leadership. We are creating a culture where all team members can speak up, be heard and feel welcome. We also want to be held accountable. In addition to starting inclusivity initiatives, we have created a formal reporting process to ensure we are upholding and protecting this value and our team.
- We have formal policies and reporting. We encourage all of our team members to use our tools and reach out if they ever feel unsafe or need support.
- While we hire for merit, fit for the role and adherence to our core values, we actively recognize that building a diverse team maximizes your chances of solving problems most elegantly.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
Growing a company is always pretty challenging but trying to grow and self-fund a company through a pandemic that temporarily shut down the travel industry has been especially challenging. Luckily, we were able to come through 2020 and not only survive but continue to grow. But, things were kind of scary there for a bit, and I know there were some really great companies in the industry that didn’t make it through.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Any company needs two things to make an impact: a hungry market and a solution that solves the problem better than the competition. Luckily, we’re dealing with a major industry problem that has largely been ignored. And, right now we have a solution that works, with very little competition. This combination makes me optimistic for our chances of making a significant impact.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
I think we’ll still be in growth mode. We’ll have even better software, insights and processes, and we’ll be able to help more VRMs grow their inventory, but faster and more efficiently. We might even have a few other things up our sleeves.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
Right now we’re just head-down and focusing on growth, and we’ll see where that takes us. We’re open to all three of the options you’ve thrown out (going public, getting acquired or staying private), but it has to be the right fit. And, continuous growth gives us lots of options.
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