Your Rocket Fuel
Your Rocket Fuel is a corporate sales platform that helps hotels generate leads from business travel and corporate relocations.
Launched in September 2020, the platform combines data from public and private sources to predict company hotel and relocation demand.
What is your 30-second pitch to investors?
Hotel corporate sales contribute up to 70% of hotels’ total revenue, but the sales process hasn't changed in 30 years. To this day, hotel sales managers spend as much as two months researching throughout the year while having no great sales tools at their disposal.
In a time where hotels are bleeding money, Your Rocket Fuel helps them generate more corporate revenue while decreasing staff costs through a first-of-a-kind sales platform for hotel sales teams.
Based on interviews with experts and potential customers, there is confirmed demand for product adaptation in the real estate, mobility and co-working industry.
Describe both the business and technology aspects of your startup.
We are building a sales platform for hotel and serviced apartment sales teams. Through a map interface, they will find qualified, location-specific leads with key company insights, travel and relocation information and relevant industry and city news. The platform combines both public and private data that has been gathered through public and private sources and analyzed by our own algorithms.
Give us your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the company.
Strengths: Deep industry knowledge and large hospitality network, great user interface and back-end technology design. We can easily scale to new cities and have very low overhead costs.
Weaknesses: The strategy of most data platforms is to target as many industries as possible with the same date. Instead, we believe in the value of highly specific data for the niches. In this way we keep churn low and relevance high. However, with this model we are navigating uncharted waters with few direct examples to follow.
Opportunities: HotelTechReport.com lists that there are 1,000-plus solutions for hotel operations managers, 400-plus tools for hotel revenue managers and 300-plus tools for hotel marketing managers. However, there are less than 25 tools available for hotel sales managers. Moreover, most existing hotel applications and services are legacy software, created by people outside the target audience - these solution-providers are not trying to move the needle. With a total addressable hotel market of $1.5 billions we see lots of opportunities.
Threats: Like most startups, we fear that one of the travel giants with unlimited resources will try to make a similar platform.
What are the travel pain points you are trying to alleviate from both the customer and the industry perspective?
Co-founder David Kijlstra worked as a commercial director and hotel consultant for more than seven years. Leading different sales teams, Kijlstra quickly grew frustrated by how much time was spent researching corporate leads due to the lack of great data and sales tools in the industry.
After interviewing more than 40 hotel sales managers, Kijlstra got the confirmation that his peers at other hotels and serviced apartment providers were struggling with the same problem. This is when he realized how much revenue was left on the table at an industry level and decided to solve this problem at scale.
So you've got the product, now how will you get lots of customers?
We have three main customer acquisitions strategies in place:
1. Direct sales. Our main channel to get customers will be direct sales through online sales demos. With Kijlstra's network mainly consisting of the target audience, the goal is to reach out directly or get introductions to general managers or hotel sales managers.
2. Content strategy. Due to the lack of sales tools for hotel sales managers, there is almost no content for hotel sales managers. To help our target audience, we will publish regular content on this topic, pushing the industry forward and attracting potential customers.
3. Referral strategy. We will implement a referral strategy to spread the word of mouth around our platform. With every new city that we add to our platform, the number of potential customers grows.
Tell us what process you've gone through to establish a genuine need for your company and the size of the addressable market.
The revenue potential of the platform within the total addressable market is $250,000,000 ARR.
Moreover, we see potential expanding into adjacent markets. Based on interviews with experts, there is confirmed demand for product adaptation for the following markets:
- Real estate developers and owners
- Co-working spaces and shared offices
- Mobility and moving companies
How and when will you make money?
We make money by selling yearly SaaS subscriptions.
What are the backgrounds and previous achievements of the founding team?
David Kijlstra (co-founder and CEO) was the commercial director of the new hotel chain Zoku (“One of the 25 Coolest Hotels in the World” - Forbes). His team won the “Best sales and account management team” award.
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Aryeh Raber (co-founder and CTO) has over 10 years of experience as a web developer. He enjoys contributing code to open source projects, such as Laravel, as well as sharing his own projects with the dev community. Over the years he’s released more than 10 free, open source add-ons for Statamic CMS, one of which held the No. 1 spot for most downloaded third-party add-on for several years.
How have you addressed diversity and inclusion within your business?
Inclusion and diversity are for us the foundation for ethical business practices. Moreover, Your Rocket Fuel has decided on a remote first strategy to attract talent beyond the borders of a city or country.
What's been the most difficult part of founding the business so far?
COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on hospitality companies worldwide. For hotels to make a new investment in a new solution (even an ROI positive one) can be a large step when they’ve had to let employees go only a few months back.
Generally, travel startups face a fairly tough time making an impact - so why are you going to be one of lucky ones?
Your Rocket Fuel is solving a clear problem in the market.
Kijlstra faced the problem of countless hours of research, scarce information and outdated sales practices on a daily basis while working as a sales consultant and commercial director.
Moreover, interviews with peers during the idea-validation stage showed that there’s a strong demand in the market for hotel sales tools — COVID-19 has only accelerated this demand further.
Lastly, during every interview and sales pitch we have done in the last nine months, sales and general managers mention that they've been looking for a tool that can help them generate more corporate revenue.
A year from now, what state do you think your startup will be in?
Our goal is that when people think of sales they think of Your Rocket Fuel. Moreover we want to have launched in five additional major cities in Europe and to have expanded our product to the co-working and real estate industry.
What is your end-game? (Going public, acquisition, growing and staying private, etc.)
For the moment we want to bring the Your Rocket Fuel platform to as many customers in as many cities as possible. The underlying economics and scaling potential of our business are very attractive for potential future investments.
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