Companies such as Airbnb and Stayz continue to allow interested homeowners to earn extra income by renting out their homes on a short-term basis. However, not all homeowners are always able to be present or have the spare time needed in order to provide the services that come along with these platforms.
As it happens, Sabrina Bethunin was on the lookout for a business idea when she was asked to manage her friend, Quirin Schwaighofer’s Airbnb listing whilst he was overseas.
“I knew then and there that I had found the business idea I was looking for.”
“Quirin received his first booking when he was away and so he reached out and asked me to manage it on his behalf,” says Bethunin.
Thereafter, Schwaighofer found himself having to come back from business travels, every Friday to clean his apartment and wash linen in preparation for his next guest. On top of this, he was constantly providing support to his guests with issues relating to things such as the TV, the fridge and the fuse box.
“After seeing the benefits Quirin gained by seeking out for help to support manage his listing, I knew then and there that I had found the business idea I was looking for.”
“I found that there was a clear gap when it came to Australia.”
Bethunin went on to undertake additional research on how the short-term rental sector had evolved in more mature markets, and as a result, discovered numerous successful companies providing similar services within the US and the UK.
“I found that there was a clear gap when it came to Australia,” says Bethunin. “I got really passionate about it and together with Quirin decided to start MadeComfy in early 2015.”
Before launch, Bethunin took a week off from her corporate job to develop the start-up’s first beta website and worked on the basics of the business, including setting up its SEO campaign from the start, deciding on the tone of voice, look and feel of the brand, and consulting with colleagues and friends with marketing experience for guidance.
“We attended digital marketing workshops where we learned about trends and the best ways to advertise our start-up,” says Bethunin. “We also joined meetings related to entrepreneurship, start-up and capital raising.”
The start-up has been growing close to 25 per cent month-on-month.
Creating an end-to-end management service, MadeComfy provides everything from taking professional photos of their client’s home, to the uploading of the listing itself on various booking platforms, to the management of rates and occupancy.
“We liaise with guests before and throughout their stay,” says Bethunin. We manage the bookings before they check-in and arrange cleaning and linen services once they check-out.”
Since launch, the start-up has been growing close to 25 per cent month-on-month, which means the business is almost doubling every three months. With over 100 houses in their portfolio, the founders insist it’s been a win-win situation for all parties involved.
This is a great indication that the hotel industry takes a business such as this, as a serious competitor to their industry.
“Seeing the excitement from clients about how easy and effortless our service makes renting out their homes can be is pretty rewarding,” says Bethunin. “This newfound income is going straight back into the pocket of Australian homeowners, enabling them to pay their mortgage repayments, undertake renovation, afford a holiday, or even invest in another property.”
AccorHotels recently purchased OneFineStay, a similar company based in London for $170 million USD. This is a great indication that the hotel industry takes a business such as this, as a serious competitor to their industry
“Our goal is to expand our operations into Melbourne in early 2017, then Brisbane in late 2017, as well as to secure investment into the business that will help us to finance our expansion interstate,” says Bethunin. “As awareness of our service increases and interest from homeowners grows, we only expect MadeComfy to sky rocket.”
Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.