My Startup: Airsorted
Airsorted makes hosting easy for everyone - providing a full service to simplify listing your home for rental online.
Founder James thought up the idea for Airsorted after quitting his job as an investment analyst to teach himself the coding language ‘Ruby on Rails’. In the meantime, he paid his bills by renting his room on Airbnb and spending his nights on the sofa. He discovered the money could be really good, but the hassle was high.
Now, Airbnb hosts can seamlessly manage their properties - getting on with their lives comfortably. It now operates in 22 countries worldwide, and this year has launched in cities including San Diego and Paris.
Founders: James Jenkins-Yates, Tom Jones and Daniel Scott
We sat down with James to find out where Airsorted is going.
Why did you start Airsorted?
In 2015, I started learning to code after two-and-a-half years working as an analyst for investment banks. I enjoyed my time in the City but wanted to switch my career.
I’m fascinated by technology. I could have explored this from within my finance bubble, but I wanted the opportunity to dive into the deep end and learn for myself, first-hand.
So, I quit my job. My weapon of choice? ‘Ruby On Rails’, a coding language that was quick to learn, and quick to deploy. It’s a language that’s been adopted by tech startups - including Airbnb - to get ideas off the ground and in front of real people as fast as possible.
But quitting my job and signing up to a training course meant I suddenly didn’t have an income. To make ends meet, I rented out my room on Airbnb and slept on the sofa. I learned two things pretty quickly: one, you can earn really good money as a host on Airbnb, and two, it’s a lot of hassle!
Messages back and forth with guests, sorting out keys, cleaning the flat, washing sheets, managing my Airbnb calendar... I was spending so much time looking after my guests. Plus, I was being interrupted while trying to learn my new skill!
That’s how I came up with the idea for Airsorted.
I knew other people could earn money by renting their home out for guests. From working abroad, travelling the world, or simply not living in a property full time, these homes were sitting empty for days, weeks, or months. Being a host was too much hassle - and nearly impossible if you were away from the property for a long time.
Tell us more about the tech behind the product?
Our service is a mix of tech, automation and real people working to make every host’s rental property a success.
When a new host joins Airsorted, we set them up with an account on our unique host dashboard. They can then use this to control all aspects of their rental property, from scheduling cleans to reviewing guest bookings, selecting which days are available for booking via their calendar, and setting their preferred nightly rate.
Hosts don’t even need to set their own nightly rates - we have a purpose-built algorithm that calculates the ideal pricing for their rental based on a wide range of factors and similar properties in their area.
We’re a tech company but the human element is extremely important. Without cleaners and maintenance support around the world, our Host Success team or our 24/7 Guest Support team, we just couldn’t be the business we are.
Where are you at right now?
Thanks to a talented, global team of people, a lot of hard work, and a bit of luck, we now manage thousands of properties for hosts all over the world, from Toronto to Tel Aviv.
Our mission has remained the same - keeping hosting hassle-free. We achieve this through a number of services, from listing creation, to professional cleaning, to guest vetting. And despite the name, properties hosted by Airsorted can be found on lots of different websites. We work with the likes of Expedia, Booking.com and HomeAway, too.
What are your aims for the next year?
We have two goals for 2020 - ‘bigger’ and ‘better’.
Airsorted has expanded rapidly over the past few years - we’re now in 22 cities around the world! The next step is to develop a wider base in these cities and open the door for expansion to new cities in the not-too-distant future.
We see a future where homes become less permanent and mobility is the norm. Property will always be a great capital investment and by making hosting hassle-free, everyone can benefit from the income generated to further life experiences. Temporarily working abroad, moving between regional offices and travelling the world while working remotely as a 'digital nomad' - these behaviours are becoming increasingly common.
Airsorted is in a great position to facilitate and advance these trends. The reason we run crowdfunding is because we're a business that will advance society - everyone deserves to be a part of that.
But as a business gets bigger, it needs to get better too if it’s going to really thrive. We’ve already started this, but it’s going to continue through 2020 and beyond. We’re looking closely at our own processes, our tech, and our training to make sure we’re a business that it constantly improving, and delivering the best possible service to our hosts and their guests.
There are a lot of moving parts in short-let management, and no business is going to get all these right, all the time. What we want to do is minimise the chances of things not going to plan for guests or hosts, and make sure we have a clear and effective process to resolve issues when they do arise. I think that’s a sign of quality in any hospitality business.
What's been the hardest thing about getting Airsorted off the ground?
Well for the first few months it was literally just me, physically doing all the different service elements in the business, from calling hosts to update them on their property’s performance to donning the rubber gloves and mopping the floors after a guest’s stay!
But really the hardest part is adapting as a business scales, and I’ve found that a big part of navigating all the challenges that come with that is about getting the right team around you. With so many different sides to the business, and new cities launching all the time, building teams has been a major part of our journey to-date.
Why should more people be using Airsorted?
For most people who own a home, it’s their single most valuable possession. We grow deep attachments to where we live, and rightly so, but this sometimes means we don’t see the potential to share that value with other people, and earn extra income in the process.
Airsorted makes it possible for people to do this, without stress and without needing to worry about your home when you’re not there. About 80% of our customers have never been hosts on Airbnb before, and we show them this amazing opportunity where they share their home and make money, and it doesn’t feel like a hassle!
Our hosts have been able to do amazing things like sail around New Zealand, explore Europe in a camper van, and one host is even walking from London to Rome this summer to raise money for charity. I’m extremely proud that Airsorted looks after their homes and guests while they’re away, and in doing so helps make these adventures possible.
How much will it cost users - and why is it worth the investment?
We only earn when our hosts do. We take a commission on the total amount that each guest pays for their booking, starting at just 12%. It’s a great model, as it means we’re tied in with our hosts’ success - so we’re incentivised to do our very best to support every one of them.
All of our hosts pay a (relatively low-cost) refundable deposit when they join Airsorted. This is used for setup costs like installation of a lockbox and one of our team visiting their home to assess the property in an initial meeting.
Our hosts are great examples of why it’s worthwhile to begin property rental. They can travel the world and experience money can’t buy opportunities as a result of listing their properties. Earning money on your property while you are away is great but doing it without any worry is even better. It means our hosts can sit back and relax, all while earning some extra cash.