(Photo via Facebook)
Great Dwellings is a property management company for short-term rental properties (think Airbnb). As the website declares, “we take the hassle out of hosting, helping busy vacation rental owners rent out rooms and apartments by optimizing pricing, screening guests, handling key drops, cleaning…” — you get the idea.
Founder Karl Scarlett started the company based on his own experiences. He owns a rental property in D.C. that he was renting longterm but, when the tenant moved out, he discovered just how much more he could make in the short-term game. On Airbnb, he told Technical.ly, “I pretty much doubled what I made in rent.”
The only problem was that getting the perfect shots of the apartment and constantly handling the flow of guests is a bit like a full-time job. Scarlett figured a little bit of backend tech could streamline a lot of the process, and Great Dwellings was born.
How does Airbnb feel about Great Dwellings? “They know who we are,” Scarlett said, “but they purposefully don’t create any public bond.” Scarlett understands why — this is an optics thing. Airbnb is consistently under fire for its impact on housing affordability. And outsourcing your short-term rental management to the pros brings, from a certain perspective, even more elitism into the process.
But Scarlett doesn’t think that Great Dwellings is taking away from affordable housing. The properties in his portfolio, he says, are too high-end. That said, he does acknowledge that short-term rentals are changing city real estate landscapes, which is why Great Dwellings donates to a nonprofit working to end homelessness and runs an economic development-type program that helps D.C.-area homeowners who are being priced out fix up their homes and put them up for short-term rental. The company then splits revenue with the homeowner.
“It’s not tech, but it’s something we’re really proud of,” Scarlett said.
Back in the world of tech, once Scarlett and his team got started looking for ways to optimize the Airbnb process, they just couldn’t stop. And that brings us to the team’s newest project — one they’ve been accepted into prestigious West Coast startup school Y Combinator for.
Wistful.ly is an app that, as Scarlett put it, allows Airbnb guests to “enhance their experience.” For example, the app allows guests to order food or mid-stay cleaning services to their place. Think of it like hotel room service but for the modern take on a hotel — only Wistful.ly doesn’t perform these services itself. Rather it uses existing sharing economy models (think Postmates for food delivery) to meet the guests’ needs.
So Wistful.ly just aggregates existing resources, right?
Yes, Scarlett said, but it also makes it easy for guests who may be unfamiliar with those resources and it gives a certain “seal of approval” as well.
Scarlett told Technical.ly that Wistful.ly is still “sort of in stealth mode,” so he couldn’t say too much about the project. That said, “we think it could be really big in the hospitality industry.”
Apparently YC thinks so too. The team of three (Scarlett is the tech guy, William Bruner is the biz dev guy and Charles Huang is the legal guy) is just one week in to the program, but Scarlett can already see that “this is next level.”
“We’ve been handed a potential lottery ticket,” Scarlett said. “We want to do this right.”
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