Startup pitch: BnbSitter, a concierge service for Airbnb hosts, leads in Paris

Last year, BnbSitter, a start-up that offers on-demand concierge for hosts of short-term rentals, scored $450,000 of seed funding.

It now says it leads the market in France and that it is active in 13 European cities (such as Cannes, Nice, Barcelona, ​​Rome and Milan), with plans to spread further.

The company provides services, such as house-keeping and handling guests checking in and checking out, for anyone renting out properties short-term via services like Airbnb.

BnbSitter says it has vetted 250 English-speaking professionals who have, to date, provided 25,000 services.

A Q&A with COO Biagio Tumino:

Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.

Myself and Piero Cipriano were inspired to launch the company during a trip in Rio de Janeiro where we rented an bnb accomodation: the host wasn’t at the place and we waited for hours before we could get in the apartment.

Living in Paris (one of the highest tourist traffic cities in the world), we noticed that private bnb platforms were gaining traction, but that, at the same time, associated concierge services were very lacking. Particularly on-demand services; they were non-existent.

Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?

The team counts now 20 people led by Piero Cipriano (Co-founder & CEO), Biagio Tumino (Co-founder & COO), Simon Malesiux (CTO) and Yassine Yacoubi (Business Development).

Funding arrangements?

We received $450,000 of seed funding in 2014. Existing investors include Frédéric de Bourguet, angel investor Laurent Benhamou, and Fashion Capital Partners. We are confident to raise another $2M in coming months.

Estimation of market size?

The Vacation Rental market is set to rise to $150B by 2020 (up $50B since 2015). The opportunity for host management services is also now estimated at $30B with an expected 10% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) by 2020.

Competition?

The services market for vacation rentals has been approached by several players and models. There are operators in the world but they have very different business and operational models.

Bnbsitter is the first marketplace offering on-demand vacation rental services.

Competitors usually focus on entire property management and for this they take a cut on the rental revenue. It is the case for companies that coordinate and screen guests arrivals.

Revenue model and strategy for profitability?

We have a transparent, commission-based model: we take a 30% commission on every service. All the services are “à la carte” and no subscription fees are required. Hosts pay only what they need and when they need.

What problem does the business solve?

Renting out properties short-term involves a lot of hassle (guest coordination, cleaning, laundry, key exchanges…). We remove those hassles in a easy, cheap and reliable way by letting hosts to really take profit of their Rental.

How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?

We have had the chance to immediately focus on the “right” idea and model. Of course, we constantly listen to our customers in order to improve our technology and add features that fully fit to the host needs.

Why should people or companies use the business?

Bnbsitter removes all the logistical hassle and time commitment normally required by property owners looking to rent short term by offering key drop-offs (guest check-in and check-out), cleaning, laundry, replenishment services and guest coordination. At the heart of our model is customer care and satisfaction at very competitive rates. This flexibility is a real opportunity for all property managers who intend to optimize their profits.

What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?

In terms of customer acquisition, our strategy includes strategical partnerships with rental platforms, seamless client onboarding, referral program and a dedicated strategy for property managers.

Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?

After establishing ourselves as leader in France we’re now on a mission to quickly dominate the sector across Europe with Italy, Spain and the UK key areas of growth in the short term. Challenge? Scale operations globally… as fast as possible!

What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that it requires a startup like yours to help it out?

There were no on demand concierge services before us that offer to all new-generation hosts flexibility, affordable prices and trust.

What other technology company (in or outside of travel) would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style… and why?

Our business and operational model is very close to Uber’s but we love the vision and values of the french unicorn Blablacar.

Which company would be the best fit to buy your startup?

We firmly believe that the services market is a real opportunity. We strongly invest on technology and customer care because we believe that user adoption is the best exit strategy!

Create a product that works and that does not need to be sold. But it is true that our services are attractive to all rental platforms looking to dramatically improve the user experience to their hosts.

Describe your startup in three words?

Innovative. Helpful. Friendly.

BnbSitter has created a Vine to capture its pitch:

Tnooz view:

The concept here isn’t that new. In 2013 the concept was standardized in San Francisco by Guesthop, though since then Pillow has gained $2.7 million in funding and many first-time customers.

Others in the space in the US and Europe include Flatbook and Hyatt-backed Onefinestay. Y-Combinator-backed Guesty is also growing.

But Europe was overdue for an efficient counterpart that’s relevant to its local markets. BnbSitter has a different model that intuitively seems more likely to have broad appeal to hosts, not just in Europe.

BnbSitter claims a 100% growth rate, quarter-over-quarter, in 2015. That’s impressive. And there’s lots of room for additional growth, given that Airbnb says Paris is its biggest market in the world in terms of inventory.

BnbSitter must watch its costs like a hawk, stay vigilant in its hiring practices (despite the complexity that comes with rapid growth), and be careful to adapt its model to local needs as it expands internationally.

The startup is supported by Welcome City Lab, the Paris-based startup incubator that focuses on urban tourism projects. That means BnbSitter can benefit from Welcome City Labs’ widely praised mentorship and networking.

We wish BnbSitter well.

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.

 

Comments

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  1. Guillaume

    I wonder why they only work with Airbnb Hosts. How about Hosts who are on other platforms (HomeAway, HouseTrip, Wimdu, Holiday Lettings, Booking.com…) and need help from a logistic point of view?

    Also what is the difference between a property manager in Paris and BnBSitter these days?

     
  2. Alia

    Really interesting idea.. I am a host on AirBnb as well.
    But, you should do your homework better: on their website their pricing model for the vacation rentals owners is based on fixed prices and not 30%. For example:
    – the basic apartment check-in is 19.99€ and going up
    – flat cleaning starts at 19.99€ (smallest unit) and goes up from there

    As a small note: AirBnb pushes all hosts to lower the prices; the latest is the automatic adjustment for weekly and monthly rent values. Of course, the owner still has the chance to set it by himself.
    Rental prices going down. How many hosts will be willing to pay for extra services like bnbsitter?
    I wouldn’t!

     
  3. Valentin Dombrovsky

    Airbnb could buy one of these companies someday. Or more than one.

     
 
 

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