One year ago I wrote about Turnkey Vacation Rentals, the American full-cycle agency for short-term home rental. For a commission of 18%, the company takes on absolutely everything: from placing ads on various websites to welcoming guests and tidying the house after them. The owner only gives keys once and counts the profits.
18% isn’t a little. The startup justified such big money with two arguments. First, the market rate is even higher, small agencies without venture financing take 30% or more. Second, Turnkey doesn’t only release from the troubles, but it also brings in guests – it supplies miore clickable images, the dynamic prices are more efficient, and it also places ads everywhere, and not just Airbnb. Less trouble and more money at the end of the day.
Evolve Vacation Rental Network, the startup of the day, does similar business and took both Turnkey’s ideas to a new level. If the value of the service is in additional guests, then they should be the focus. Evolve only provides homeowners with marketing and a call center. The startup takes pictures of homes, places them on aggregators, writes nice descriptions, manages the preces, answers questions from future tenants. If the booking is formed and the money goes to the account, then the company did its job, and from this point you can have fun any way you want.
Without working in the field, the prime cost drops. Evolve takes a commission of 10%, almost twice less compared to Turnkey. And it is definitely a nice bargain, anmateur is sure to lose every tenth guest if compared with a professional job. If the owner wants full service without having to clean themselves and things like that, Evolve offers the services of local partners. Naturally, they don’t come free, but they exist on the conditions of a tender from the get-go, the rate will be the lowest possible.
A fully online business is easy to scale. The startup spent USD 19M in 5 years, and in its latest round in May it got as much as 80M.
This is a rerun from 2018. The main past event for the startup is, of course, the virus, and its impact is still observed. This Spring, Evolve wrote that in 2021 its revenue grew twice – and how should one understand whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing after the pandemic failure? No idea. At least, the startup keeps bringing in investments, there was another USD 100M round in March.
Alexander made his career in Russian internet companies including Mail.Ru, Rambler, RBC. From 2016 to 2018 he was Chief Strategy and Analytics officer in Mail.Ru Group. In this position, he worked on M&A, investments, and new project launches. In 2018 he became Deputy CEO in Citymobil, a Russian Uber-like company that was invested by Mail.Ru Group and Sberbank (the biggest Russian bank), then he left the company to launch his own projects. Now Alexander is a co-founder of United Investors – the platform for co-investments in Russian early-stage startups. His blog #startupoftheday (#стартапдня) is one of the most popular blogs about startups in Russia.