Connect with us

Entrepreneurs

EXCLUSIVE: This Entrepreneur Built A $7B Business Without Outside Funding. Here’s How He Did It

Published

on

Tim Hentschel is the CEO of HotelPlanner.com, probably the most important traveling booking platform you haven’t heard of.

Tim’s platform handles billions in transactions a year, powering all the booking sites you know. 

Altogether, HotelPlanner provides group travel technology expertise to over 4.2M group event planners while servicing $7B in group hotel booking requests in 2017.

(They expect $10B in 2018.)

Since launching in 2003—bootstrapped (the way we like it, WealthGANG)—Tim has raised money, paid back investors, scaled the platform to billions in transactional value.

And as of this year, he’s also won Cornell University’s award as Hospitality Innovator of the year, taking the prize from Lyft CEO, John Zimmer.

This is his story.

Solving problems

HotelPlanner.com was an idea birthed from frustration with inefficiency.

“There was a huge pain point in rate procurement process for groups,” he says. “It would take days, sometimes weeks, to get an answer.”

“A sales manager would ask you where your place of work is, all of the details about your contact information. They will come back and continue to keep asking and asking until they give you a rate,” Hentschel explains.

Like a true entrepreneur, Hentschel was able to simplify the group booking process. “We just ask where you are going, what your budget is, the dates and the number of rooms.”

And boom, the business was born.

Next thing you know, Hentschel and co-founder John Prince scored a bevy of Q-rated clients like Best Western, AT&T, and Walmart.

(They’ve since expanded to major sports leagues, including the NBA and NFL.)

Flipping the model

Despite the simplicity of the process, the business model is quite unique. Hentschel says the site launched on the back of an uncommon financial engineering decision.

What it effectively does is enable a reverse auction process—permitting hotels to bid on travel groups.

Whatever the occasion, the users can submit their requirements like the number of rooms needed (with a minimum of 9+ rooms per night) and the dates, and companies will compete to get the business.

Thus ensuring the best rate for the group.

Better yet, the brand has partnered with lots of affiliates like Orbitz, Kayak, Travelocity, Hotwire, Priceline, helping them tap into an expansive user base.

The process is extremely simple, and leaves no room for extra hassles.

Instead of screening for excess info, HotePlanner.com scratched out all of these requirements.

In addition to the current client list, the travel platform is betting big on expansion through acquisitions.

After its launch, the company’s acquired TravelTicker, Hotel Hotline, and very recently folded accommodation auction site BackBid into HotelPlanner’s suite of services.

It’s a disciplined approach, he tells us. 

“Our initial valuation was based on the cash we needed to reach profitability in relation to the equity we were willing to give up. Our 60 pages of market research helped investors believe that we could hit our targets with a very small initial raise by today’s standards,” Hentschel says.

“Our research was correct, and we hit profitability in our second year, and we never had to raise money again,” he adds.

Bootstrapped growth

In recent years, sectors like hospitality—and especially real estate—have seen a massive influx of capital inflows. One fund’s committed $93 billion to tech investments alone.

Despite all the VC dry powder looking for opportunity, Tim advises startups to stay as far away from funding for as long as they can.

“Think about it,” he says. “That big seven-figure, eight-figure check doesn’t go to you. It goes to the company, and you effectively lose control of your company. It’s business and the VCs can be ruthless.”

Instead, he recommends moving the focus to actually building the business.

“Focus on your core value. We filed a patent for our online group hotel booking technology 15 years ago, and we have been working everyday since to make that technology better for customers and suppliers,” he tells us.

What’s next on the cards?

While his company is busy garnering robust sales, Hentschel’s naturally bullish on the travel industry’s future.

The travel space is wedged into a transitional phase. Baby boomers who are spending their retirement traveling. Then we’ve got millennials prioritizing “experiences” over “stuff.”

“We have been through market bubbles and bursts over the history of our company and the highs and lows can be challenging if your core product cannot adapt quickly to market conditions. We are going to continue to expand globally and follow up with group travel trends,” Hentschel says.

“We want to compile as much data and information about every destination, and push it out to visitors in an easy to digest format.”

And what’s next, Tim? IPO?

“Not yet,” he says, laughing. “Our books are healthy, we’re growing. Maybe at some point in the future.”

Entrepreneurs

5 Bad Habits That Sabotage Success You Need To Avoid

Published

on

(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.) 

At first glance, it would appear like everyone working in real estate has type-A personalities. After all, success is practically dependent on being organized, always prepared, and having a keen attention to the little details and always being ready to go.

In actuality, being prepared 100% of the time and remembering every important detail is easier said than done (and totally exhausting) so we make mistakes from time to time. After all, we’re only human. But sometimes those honest mistakes can turn into bad habits that chip away at our success.

Here are some bad habits that can seriously inhibit your chances succeeding professionally.

1. Putting Things Off Until Later

We’ve all procrastinated at some point in our lives – some of us more frequently than others – but getting into the habit of ignoring your responsibilities can cause you a heap of stress and heartache down the road.

If you’ve got a deadline looming over your head that you don’t want to do, don’t put it off – get it done so that you can get back to doing things you enjoy. I find if you put the “pain in the a$$” tasks first, it really clears your mind to be more effective doing all the other ones.

It’s that old saying of “get out of your comfort zone”, which also applies to the simplest things we do.

2. Tardiness

Everybody is a little late every now and then. Things happen beyond our control that can hold us up. But if you’re someone who’s constantly late for your appointments, you’re sending the message that you don’t care about your clients’ and team members’ time.

Not only are you probably annoying the other parties present, you could be costing yourself a big contract because you left a client waiting.

3. Poor Communication Habits

The key to succeeding in real estate is networking and staying in touch with your clients and connections. But if you’re known as the person who never returns an email or isn’t reachable by phone, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Most people want to work with someone they can depend on. And even if you don’t have the answer, it’s better to respond by telling them you’ll get back with them rather than no response period.

Additionally, if you can’t make the time to reply to an email or return a call, you’re essentially telling your clients and team members they’re not important.

Lastly, being as clear as possible while communicating can also be a lifesaver. There are so many times where people think they hear what your saying but they aren’t fully.

In fact, a lot of times, the message is heard differently from its actual meaning. Talk about confusion! Now, I’m not saying you have to repeat yourself, but make sure you are really being clear when you are defining next action items.

4. Spending Too Much Time On Your Phone

Chances are, if you’re guilty of being a procrastinator you’re also probably guilty of losing focus throughout the day thanks to your smartphone.

For many people with focus-related problems, social media sites like Facebook and Instagram become massive time wasters. Break your cell phone habit by keeping your phone out of arm’s reach.

That way, you won’t be able to pick it up on a whim and check out social media when you’re supposed to be working. This is a tough one, but practice makes perfect!

5. Working Inefficiently

Work smarter, not harder. Don’t just dive into a task without coming up with a plan first. Think about ways to approach projects so that you maximize your productivity and get more done in less time. And most importantly, stay away from things that distract you.

You don’t have to be a type-A personality to succeed in the office, but you do need to make an effort to prevent yourself from falling into negative patterns of behavior. By nipping one or more of these bad habits in the bud, you’re well on your way to becoming the office superstar.

Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here

Continue Reading

Entrepreneurs

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: This 26-Year Old Made $100K From Her IG In 90 Days. Here’s How She Did It 👀

Published

on

 

Yes, it’s a pandemic. Yes, the economy is down. Yet, some entrepreneurs have found opportunity in the “new normal” (whatever that means). 

In the public markets, FAANGs are booming: Amazon and Netflix are up dramatically, fueled by the need for home entertainment…and shopping.

One of them is Ariel Adams, a 26-year-old South Virginia-based realtor. In April, at the height of the lockdown, she had exactly 1000 followers on Instagram. 

Fast forward to today, she’s attracted over 100K followers, has made $100K in online sales (again, during the pandemic), and is now showing others how to do the same.

We sat down with Ariel to discuss how she made $100K in 90 days, what she sold, how she got her first customer, and how you can, too.

Let’s get right to it. You work in real estate but were able to make $100,000 from your IG in three months. Let’s start with the product. What did you sell?

Yes, that’s correct. I was shocked myself! My sales came from my digital products, mainly my e-book From Instagram to Instant Money. My e-book dives into how you can optimize your Instagram profile to grow a following and sell your own product. I talk to the Instagram algorithm and how to beat it to ultimately monetize the platform. My other digital product is my course How to $ave Like the Wealthy. As a realtor, I would receive a lot of questions in regards to saving up for a down payment on a home. I decided to create a video outlining the best way to save money and accumulate wealth. Both of those products got me to six figures!

How did you secure your first orders? Who were your buyers?

My sales came from my following. I would collaborate with other brands with significant followings and post my product on their page. This drew in a lot of traffic to my products and also pushed me to 100k followers on Instagram. My buyers were typically people looking to earn passive income by selling a product or service through Instagram.

Was the objective of your advertising to gain followers and sell later? Or did that just happen as a byproduct of people buying your courses?

I never was trying to gain followers, I was always trying to sell. I think people would see my ad, go to my page, and then turn into a follower because I always provide valuable content on my page. My Instagram consists of personal finance infographics, real estate tips, and inspirational quotes. I think people naturally gravitated toward that and I was able to retain and gain followers.

How do you consistently market it? Is this a model anyone can use?

I try to set up placements on these bigger Instagram pages 2-3 times a week. I aim for business pages, women-owned business pages, and black business pages. My product resonates well with entrepreneurs looking to scale their business through IG. It is absolutely a model anyone can use. I recommend following the other steps I speak to in my e-book. This will ensure the most success.

Most aren’t aware that partnerships can literally boost your business. How did you come up with the idea of collaboration and what made you target those pages exactly?

Being savvy to Instagram, I was always aware of Influencer Marketing. A lot of people think that’s just girls posting brands to their million or so followers, but it includes placements with ANY brand that has a substantial following. I knew this was a key to success. Collaboration on bigger platforms would be the most helpful for my brand. I targeted people I thought would be interested in my product; women CEOs, entrepreneurs, e-commerce enthusiasts, etc. I made sure to stay within that niche.

How did you come up with this idea?

I was inspired by other online entrepreneurs. I saw them making thousands online and I thought to myself, “Hey, I can do that.” So I decided to do it. I asked myself, “What am I skilled in? What can I teach people?” From my previous life managing artists in the music industry, I became an expert in Instagram. Combining what I studied at the University of Miami (Business) and my knowledge of Instagram, that’s what sparked my e-book on the subject.

What’s the number one advice you’d give someone who’s looking to make money for themselves but isn’t sure where to start?

My advice would be to write down what it is you’re good at. Brainstorm what skills you have. Maybe you have a passion for food? Good, create and sell a cookbook. Maybe you’re good at writing? You can become a freelance resume writer. We all have skills we can capitalize on. And if you need to learn how to market yourself, then Google is your best friend. Read, read, read. Self-educate and you will be on your way, and of course download my e-book to learn how to sell through Instagram!

Continue Reading

Entrepreneurs

Exclusive Q&A: How These 4 College Roommates Built One Of The Top Black Wealth Channels On Instagram

Published

on

It’s one of the more shocking stats that exist in America: Despite trillions in spending power, minorities are at the bottom when it comes to wealth. As of today, there’s a wealth gap that will take 228 years to close.

That said. There’s currently a movement on social media where a handful of Instagram channels provide real financial and wealth-building advice, particularly in the black community.

We spoke to the founders of one of our favorite channels, @BlackWealthRenaissance.

Ex-roommates in college, Jalen Clark, David Bellard, Jared Spiller and Kelly Rhodes started this as a passion project; they’ve since grown this 209K+ followers in about a year, with one of the most engaging audience on the ‘Gram.

In this two-part Q&A, they break down the importance of wealth building, their mission and why it’s important to make your own table.

(Editor’s note: This interview was done by WealthLAB editor-in-chief/real estate developer Philip Michael.)

Congrats on all your success. In such a short time. So tell people. What is Black Wealth Renaissance?

Jared: Black Wealth Renaissance is a movement. Our goal is to normalize the topics and conversations around wealth growth and educate African American people through education and awareness through social media.

We will educate as many people as we can reach on ways to achieve financial freedom and positive examples of people who have or are on their way to financial freedom. 

David: Like Jared said, it’s a movement. We want to encourage those in our community to take action, educate themselves on finances and personal development, learn how to invest, understand the abundance of opportunity out there, and exhibit unity through practicing self love and group economics.

It’s really about embracing an abundance mindset and understanding that we can change our realities if we change our thinking.

So that’s the mission tied to the brand?

Kelly: Black Wealth Renaissance is more than just a brand; it’s part of a change in culture. We wanted to continue this movement on African Americans learning financial literacy because it’s not taught in schools.

And most parents don’t even understand some financial literacy concepts to be able to teach to their children. So we created this brand to generate a space where everyone can learn how to build generational wealth. 

It’s a really cool name, too.

Jalen: Black Wealth Renaissance is more than just a catchy name or an Instagram account. We are seeing a time of enlightenment in our community—as well as culture—so we decided to highlight the positive energy and impact that is currently happening around us.

What are some of the core messages you guys are trying to push?

Jalen: We want to take away the stigma of money being the root of all evil within our community and show people how it can be a tool of empowerment and ever-lasting change.

That’s dope. 

Jalen: To sum it up BWR is a shift from asking for what we want to going out and grabbing life by the horns and taking control of your own destiny. 

How did the mission come about; why did you start it?

David: The mission began really more-so as a passion project. Jared, Kelly, and I were roommates in college and this is the type of stuff we were always talking about at home.

So how did it become an actual idea?

David: The idea of creating an IG page had been something that we floated around because it was a lot of knowledge that we were gaining that we wish we had known earlier—and wanted to share it with others.

One day while having one of our many conversations on the topics of culture and finance, I told Jared, “Man, let’s just go ahead and make the page” and here we are seven months later.

Jared: The mission came about after myself and my roommates, Kelly and David, read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

A classic!

Jared: Yes. We began researching different avenues to create passive income and experimented with many different projects that we never knew would lead up to Black Wealth Renaissance. 

One day, David and I were talking about different ideas and concepts we had heard from our favorite podcast and were talking about how we wanted to spread the word about financial freedom. And he told me to go ahead and start the page.

What happened next?

Jared: From there, we’ve grown as a team and continue to push towards our goal of educating as many people as possible and exposing them to various pathways to financial freedom. 

Kelly: I noticed that Jared and David created a page that had some good inspirational quotes on it, but I did not fully understand what their goals were in the page.

I called them one night after I got an idea about creating a financial literacy page to help build a brand so we can start a podcast we always talked about.

They told me that was the plan of the page they already created and that they wanted me to be part of this movement.

I think the biggest thing for us growing like we did is from the beginning we focused on helping and teaching to better their financial situations that has always been—and will be—the goal. 

What was your role in all this, Jalen?

Jalen: I was in the background when the page got started, but I was always there since David and I are such good friends; we’re constantly around each other, so I would hear him talking to Jared, discussing certain things and would give my input on the topics.

So it wasn’t your plan to join right away? 

Eventually I couldn’t fight it because I was just as passionate about the things they were talking about and doing. Once the page started to really growing, I jumped on board and haven’t looked back. 

I’ve said this publicly, my goal is to help create 100K new investors create generational wealth through real estate. What’s the goal behind your mission?

David: Short term goal is to encourage the conversation of building wealth, while providing tools and resources that can help people take actionable steps to achieve that wealth.

Long term goal is creating an education system to teach financial literacy to the black masses, providing a platform where we can come together to invest in each other’s companies.

To create economic independence in our community so that we can begin to implement the changes our people have long sought.

Instead of continually asking for it, because obviously that ain’t working. We want this to go down in history as the movement that changed the narrative of Black people in America.

Incredible. Love it.

Jared: To help people. We truly believe that through education we can change the narrative around a lot of problems and hurdles in the African American community.

Once we can change these types of conversations into everyday topics, a lot of things will change for our communities.

I always believed the number one difference between wealth in cultures is what’s discussed around the dinner table, those everyday conversions. 

Jared: We just want to get the conversations around financial freedom normalized amongst the African American community.  

Kelly: The goal behind Black Wealth Renaissance is to help—and teach—others how to create generational wealth. Most people would read that and think we want just everyone to have a ton of money—which is nice—but is not our specific goal.

It’s about understanding money. So many things that aren’t being taught.

Kelly: We want to have African Americans learn financial literacy so they can teach the next generation; so the learning curve for them won’t be as steep.

We also want people to be able to pass on businesses, land, real estate, etc. to the next generation, ultimately changing the financial status of not only them but their heritage. 

Jalen: When I think on the mission, I think of it as “to normalize black wealth and share helpful resources and tips we believe will be useful in attaining and maintaining generational wealth.”

That’s it exactly.

Jalen: It creates an image in my head of more couples and families that look like the Carters and the Obamas.

I think instead of hearing this person is the “first black person to do such-and-such,” you’re going to hear more of this person was “the first person to ever do this.”

I always thought it was so limiting to say that.

Jalen: Right. We won’t have to compete for a spot at the table; we are creating our own table. And a spot at other tables will become an open invitation that we have the right to accept or refuse.

That’s true freedom right there.

Jalen: We want the topic of personal finance and financial education to be held and taught to the youth and elderly so it is no longer a taboo or sore subject within our community.

We want to break the social molding of “looking like money,” while struggling to pay the bills.

The mission is also deeper than creating wealth through money this mission is to become wealthy in all walks of life personal, mentality, collectively, and spiritual. 

 

Continue Reading

Trending


Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/28/d742565295/htdocs/clickandbuilds/WealthLab/wp-content/themes/zox-news-child/single.php on line 683
5 Articles Left
Get unlimited access
X

Forgot Password?

Join Us