Featured Startup Pitch: Hovelstay is an ‘anti-luxury’ travel accommodations site for those who want to travel on the cheap

Hovelstay logoBy Michael Bolger and Michael Womack, Hovelstay co-founders

ELEVATOR PITCH

Hovelstay.com is the anti-luxury marketplace that offers unique and affordable places to stay around the world. With hovelstay, you can now stay in huts, school buses, loveseats, and igloos for under $99 a night.

PRODUCT/SERVICE DESCRIPTION

Hovelstay.com is a listing service that allows hosts to rent any type of extra space out and allows travelers to find more affordable options for accommodations. All listings are $99 and under with a three percent booking fee for both hosts and travelers with an exception of one percent for students.

FOUNDERS’ STORY

Two of us who had years in the luxury vacation rental business were shocked at how serious a lot of these vacation rental sites took their properties, describing them as luxury when in fact they weren’t. So we decided on creating a site that went entirely in the opposite direction—a truly full disclosure approach. A bed is a bed and a couch is a couch.

Hovelstay hay

MARKETING/PROMOTION STRATEGY

Right now everything is grassroots and guerilla marketing, nothing out of the ordinary…yet.

MARKET OPPORTUNITY

It’s quite massive. The numbers of vacation rental site users is in the tens-of-millions each year, and growing. It’s one of the reasons hotels are fighting tooth-and-nail in cities to temper the vacation rental market. But it needs to be pointed out, we didn’t start this to take on any big chunk of the market. It was supposed to be a little bit of an inside joke, catering only to college students, wanting to keep it edgy and underground. We opened up a whole new market people didn’t know about.

Hovelstay Wooden Bungalow

DIFFERENTIATORS VS. THE COMPETITION

Well, there are the obvious competitors whose names we don’t mention, but there’s also a really fair number of unknown sites that are more specific, like KOA or Tinyhousevacations.com—we think. Much like them, we’re way more niche than the average competition.

BUSINESS MODEL

Our revenue model was to deliver more on the users’ experience than making money. This was not spreadsheet analyzed prior to launch. We wanted to pay our bills and have some fun. The fact that it has converted itself into a popular site is icing on the cake. Timing has a big hand here with our profitability potential as much as anything else. We know that’s not a model, but we’re becoming used to breaking norms.

Hovelstay Tent

CURRENT NEEDS

Right now, we just want people to know that any type of extra space they have is a vacation rental. People travel to see the world, not to enjoy their Egyptian cotton sheets all day.

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HEADQUARTERS: Glendale, California

WEBSITE: www.hovelstay.com

FOUNDERS: Michael Bolger, Michael Womack

INVESTORS: Private investors

YEAR FOUNDED: 2014

ANGELLIST: angel.co/hovelstay-com

TWITTER: @hovelstay

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/hovelstay

LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/hovelstay

PINTEREST: pinterest.com/hovelstay

TUMBLR: hovelstay.tumblr.com

GOOGLE+: plus.google.com/104244909581991079292/about

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