Tech Pitch: Hostmaker

Inspired by the Airbnb travel bug, Nakul Sharma has built a hosting service which helps those looking to rent out their homes get "guest-ready"...

Company name: Hostmaker
Founder: Nakul Sharma (32)
Background: Sharma worked at leading hotel chains Starwood Hotels and InterContinental Hotels Group, and launched Hostmaker after the Airbnb travel and hosting bug hit him.
Based in: London but also present in Barcelona, Rome and Paris

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

  • Hostmaker takes the hassle out of ​managing short term rentals for homeowners.
  • Hostmaker provides hotel-style cleaning services, linen rental and welcome packs for arriving guests as well as pricing optimisation, guest communication and even design services or maintenance for Airbnb hosts.
  • It’s a hands-off solution for people who want to optimise their renting revenues without lifting a finger.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

Hostmaker reimagines the streets of a city like the corridors of a hotel. We believe that every home can be on Airbnb, and every host can be ‘guest-ready’.

Hostmaker, with its hotel expertise, is here to take the hassle out of hosting by solving the complex logistical operation to coordinate housekeepers, fresh linen and key exchange for hosts who have full-time jobs/live abroad/have busy social lives or just don’t want to be involved in these logistical headaches.

We also add further value with our capabilities in dynamic pricing strategies, interior design, guest communication and hospitality experience that makes a Hostmaker listing on Airbnb stand apart from the rest.

Are you funded?

Yes, we raised our first round of £250,000 in 2015.  We also won the Insead investor pitch in London that same year. We successfully grew in the high double digits for all of last year which resulted in a second fundraise of nearly £1.5m led by DN Capital.

Our investor group includes hospitality operations and real estate professionals, a senior Airbnb executive, and experienced VCs and successful entrepreneurs, who were mainly convinced by the ambition of the project, the speed of execution and the quality of service delivery.

What were you doing before starting?

I have a degree in hotel management from Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland. Following this degree, I attended the National University of Galway where I received a joint First Class Honours degree in hotel management and marketing in 2005.

I was picked up as graduate management trainee by Starwood Hotels in London where I worked in revenue management and later took on the responsibility of opening two hotels for the group in Dubai. I then graduated from the INSEAD MBA in 2011, and worked as director of commercial strategy and planning for the Intercontinental Hotels Group. While working there I co-wrote a paper on Airbnb’s impact on the hotel industry. I was convinced that Airbnb was an attractive alternative for travellers who were tired of the mediocre offering from three and four star hotels and felt that Airbnb was making homestays a true alternative travel accommodation category.

I quit my job at the end of January 2014 to pursue this idea and launched Hostmaker in July 2014. As an Airbnb host myself, I used my home as a test ground for the services I was proposing – this insight has helped build Hostmaker into a new age hospitality brand.

What’s the best thing about where you’re based?

We are based in the London “Silicon Valley” of Angel which is close to other creative start-ups and investors. Plus, there is the best tortilla shop just in front of our office…

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