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January 30, 2018

Hostfully + Orbirental: a startup love story

Hi Everyone,

We’re excited to announce that we made a big leap forward — we merged Orbirental and Hostfully. Now the two companies are joined together as one team and one company.

What is Orbirental and what is Hostfully?

Orbirental is a software platform that vacation rental managers use to manage their business. Among its robust set of features, Orbirental helps distribute bookings across different platforms. When a customer buys the Orbirental solution, they can instantly post their listings on Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor. Orbirental synchronizes pricing, calendaring, and property information across bookings platforms, and connects with business tools including Quickbooks and Stripe. To date, Orbirental has processed 1.3 million leads and serviced 15,000 properties around the world.

Hostfully is a digital guidebook platform that helps vacation rental managers share property information and local recommendations with their guests. When a customer buys the Hostfully solution, they get admin tools to manage hundreds of items of content across their properties. After a reservation is made, each guest gets a digital guidebook specific to their trip. 50,000 travelers have used Hostfully guidebooks in 80 countries around the world since launch.

Both Orbirental and Hostfully products will stay live, and the combined company will be called Hostfully

Whether you’re an Orbirental or Hostfully customer, you can look forward to continued development and support for both products. Combined, we’ll help vacation rental companies manage their business from tip to tail, including:

  • Bookings distribution
  • Channel management
  • Automated tasks and communication
  • Personalized customer experience
  • Integrations with important business tools for accounting, payments and pricing

We’ll also be bringing the best processes and practices from each company into the other. It will take a few months for everything to get integrated, and we also will be improving both products during that time.


Why are we joining?

We have a long and happy history of working together

Like many startup love stories, this one began in a San Francisco coffee shop called Flywheel Coffee Roasters, right near Golden Gate Park.

This is the single-drip, hipster coffee shop where the magic moment happened.

Stephan was building out a comprehensive network of Orbirental partners. Margot and David were shifting Hostfully’s focus from serving individual Airbnb hosts to vacation rental companies, and eager to work with a leading company that provided solutions to that customer.

We quickly realized we had even more things in common:

  • Stephan and David are both Burners (have been to Burning Man)
  • Margot had given a job offer to Stephan’s wife, Alice, 5 years previously
  • We each have two young kids, and common friends in San Francisco
  • We were both building a network of trusted partners in the ecosystem

Fast forward to a year later:

Not only were we seeing customers flow back and forth between our two companies, but we also shared a few large customers. The partnership was a pleasure for both of us to work on, and we were able to get to know each other during that time.

Our products are complementary, and serve the same customer

As we continued to work together, we saw more opportunity to create a better solution for customers. We asked ourselves:

What if we could help vacation rental companies with their entire customer workflow — all the way from reservation inquiries to getting a 5-star review?

Answering this question got us thinking even bigger about what we could do together. Having built and grown platforms at Apple and Sparked, and API-centric apps on Twitter and Facebook platforms, we started to think more broadly about the problems we could solve as a team.

Once we realized that the sum of this whole was greater than the sum of its parts, we were even more motivated to join the companies together.

“As a user of both products, I couldn’t be happier to hear about Hostfully and Orbirental’s merger. Orbirental helps us list on multiple sites and manage our reservations, while Hostfully ensures we provide 5-star hospitality experience to our guests. To have these two essential services wrapped into one package just makes sense.”

Tim Touchette, President of Attache Corporate Housing, and Hostfully and Orbirental customer

This guy isn’t us, but it does reflect our desire to be in the woods as much as possible.

We get along — really, really well

It‘s like dating — we discovered that our two teams bring out the best in each other. One day, Margot awkwardly popped the question to Stephan: “What do you think about us having a more serious relationship?”

Orbirental’s lean team had built a feature-rich product that customers were buying every day. Hostfully’s team of engineering, product, marketing, and sales folks were proving their mettle by growing the customer base and revenue 30% month over month — with lots of referrals and little churn.

Orbirental was trying to hire more business-side resources: a CMO, COO, sales leadership, and customer success. Hostfully wanted to accelerate the development pipeline to build a product with a stronger value proposition for vacation rental companies.

As negotiations progressed, we could quickly see chemistry between the two teams. We have two important things in common:

ONE: We love building world-class products, and we’re good at it

Combined, our founders bring more than 60 years of experience from venture-backed startups and blue chip companies like Apple and Netscape. We are passionate about building platforms and products that people use and love — and scaling them to millions. We’ve done this a few times — with the Apple iPhone Developer Program, Intweetiv’s content engine on Twitter, and at Sparked.

TWO: Our cultures are compatible

We’ve been around the block a few times, so we know how to work hard, enjoy the hell out of it, and balance it with other important stuff, like spending time with family, parenting, pickup soccer, Settlers of Catan, traveling, art classes, surfing and Crossfit. Growing and nurturing our families and doing the same for our companies comes naturally to us.

During merger negotiations, we celebrated family moments along with our business successes — one Hostfully baby was born (congrats Mark!) and one kid broke her arm (sorry Mia!). Also — exciting news — two more kids are on the way — congrats to Glenn and Margot.

“After getting to know the Hostfully and Orbirental teams in the Acceleprise accelerator, I’m thrilled to see them come together to tackle the $25B market for vacation rental company software. They are a perfect fit, and will be stronger together.”

Mike Cardamone, Managing Director of Acceleprise, and investor in both companies

Here we are at Alamo Square Park on the day that we signed the merger.

We joined as 50–50 equals

From the start, we could see value in each other’s businesses. When we thought about joining, the big question was: “How should we value each company”?

It’s hard to answer this question for early stage startups, because there are so many factors, and few proof points. Orbirental had more monthly revenue and significant partnerships, including that with Airbnb. Hostfully had a well-built-out and experienced team, and was starting to see strong, predictable MRR growth. Orbirental had a feature-rich product and platform. Hostfully successfully raised a Pre-Seed round, with happy customers and little churn.

Speed and simplicity are key for early stage startups. We decided to value the companies equally. Once we agreed on this, the rest of the merger discussion fell into place.

Stephan having a moment of contemplation before signing merger paperwork.

Margot thrilled to finish the legal process and get this show on the road.

We share the same vision

Above all, we are delighted to join because we share the same purpose.

Our mission: To help every vacation rental company make the most of every stay.

This means increasing revenue, streamlining workflow, and guaranteeing a 5-star traveler experience. Together, we can do this even faster than we could alone. We’re so excited to start and supercharge both of our efforts! We look forward to sharing more news about this in the coming months.

We’re grateful to…

Our Customers and Partners:

You inspire us every day to do better and solve bigger problems. Whether its a referral, compliment, or complaint, we love hearing from you. Thank you for your ongoing support and feedback.

Our Team:

We’re grateful to our passionate, hardworking teams including Noah Neiman, Cedric Raudin, Bob Axford, Meli Axford, Mark Nelson, Angela Lau, Nicole Prentice-Williams, and Glenn Carter. Thank you for your commitment and open-mindedness during this exciting change.

Our Extended Team of Investors and Advisors:

We take your insights very seriously, and are thrilled to be building our business with and for you. We want to give a special shoutout to Mike Cardamone at Acceleprise.VC, Christie Pitts at Backstage Capital, Duncan Logan at Rocketspace, Chenoa Farnsworth at Blue Startups, and Steve Adelman, Len Lodish and Irina Yuen at Wharton VIP for their support and insights as we explored this merger.

Our Families:

We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our life partners Ari Schmorak, Kim Jacoby and Alice Glading. And a special kind of thanks to our kids Dylan, Talia, Max, Olivia, Ben, and Aaron for keeping us on our toes and reminding us about our most pressing priorities.

Our Attorney:

We’re grateful to have found our fantastic attorney, Peter Szymanski, who was a true partner along the way. Peter helped us keep the legal process as simple and cost-effective as possible.

This is just the beginning of a great love story — stay tuned for what’s next!

XOXO

Margot, Stephan, and David


Have questions about this blog post and the merger? Feel free to contact Margot (margot@hostfully.com), David (david@hostfully.com) or Stephan (steph@hostfully.com). We’d love to hear from you.