Interview Pt 1: RedAwning CEO Tim Choate on acquisitions and growth

RedAwning CEO Tim Choate speaks to ShortTermRentalz about the company’s recognition, its acquisitions and future plans in the first part of a feature-length interview.

  • RedAwning has cemented its position as the fastest-growing startup for the second consecutive year and the ninth fastest-growing company in Bay Area in the San Francisco Times: what can you say this indicates about the direction the company is heading in?

“Our view has always been to serve guests in every destination with as much content as possible and also serve property managers by getting them properties where their guests are shopping. The space in this category is very large – we are growing rapidly but we are also still rather small in comparison to others in the category. We feel there is a long way to go and on top of all that, the category is growing quickly and more people are getting comfortable with vacation rentals. I think we are playing one of the roles in that because we are trying to help guests get a more consistent experience whether they are staying in San Francisco or London etc.”

“We are adding this layer of front-end service for the guest so that they can have greater comfort, then we have that guest answer to the vacation manager who is the one providing the actual property and a local service. We think that is a really nice way to scale to a lot more properties than any one property manager could do. This is so we can serve more guests in more locations and really build the confidence in this category of travel.”

  • How does it make you feel as CEO of RedAwning to get this recognition as a fast-growing startup?

“It is great, I love my job! This is actually my third startup so I have been through this before. They were all startups and they all grew rapidly but ultimately I sold the first one that I took public and then sold the second one. I focus a lot myself on building a great company with a win-win philosophy for our guests, for vacation managers and for our staff so I really enjoy the prospect of building businesses and hearing them out. The vacation rental category is particularly challenging in a number of ways so picking that up is a great joy to me and being recognised is a great reward for that. To me, the greatest reward is just seeing the company develop and to see it grow myself.”

  • In August, RedAwning acquired Leavetown Vacations and the Jetstream Connectivity Solutions so what is the latest with the integration with the latter and what do you hope to get out of this deal?

“That deal has already proved to be phenomenal and it is interesting since they were at a much earlier stage than us but we were working in parallel paths. They are probably the only company I have discovered outside of maybe Interhome that worked in a very similar way to us. The difference was they were only working with multi-unit buildings and we were working primarily with individual key properties so that was a really synergistic match with us.”

“I also mean basing where they were, what their distribution was and where their clients were, that they were really right at the point of inflection because we were at the exact same point several years ago. Therefore, it is interesting that they have inflected because they are much larger than they were when we bought them. I would like to take credit for that but the reality is that I told the sellers that I thought this was going to happen and they were ready for that moment so it has gone very well.”

“We are in the process where we have almost completed integrating their content over to RedAwning so that we can actually include it in most of our network including our relationship with the hotel ads. That is going to be a great fit and I think it will take that deal even further. The CEO is now head of our guest experience so he manages the guest experience team at RedAwning. We have also announced that our European office will be in Mallorca so because we are on such parallel paths there was just tremendous compatibility. It made it seamless to work together and they have done really well on their own as well.”

“We did two deals this year and we are still a relatively small company in the grand scheme of things. That was a big deal for us! We do still have a number of other conversations going but I think it will be a little while before we do the next one. It does take time and effort to ensure that everything is set up with each one and I think we are learning how to do that better.”

“Our view is we have over 100,000 properties so our model thrives on it. At the end of the day, we are merchants on behalf of our property managers and we need products to put on the shelves. We have more sales than anyone else so we can drive a lot of business for people who work with us but we need those properties to drive their business and as a result, ours.”

“A lot of what we look at in the world is who are the people who have a lot of properties, either in a similar structure to what Leavetown was and then the other side of that is the Blizzard approach which was a little bit different. We have others out there which are different in the sense that they serve people in a different way to what we do that is complimentary. They might have a solution on offer to our guests and our property managers as well so we are always watching and we are outside of the very large folks like Expedia, Booking.com and Airbnb.”

“We are probably the largest of the next tier down so we do get a lot of people enquiring about opportunities like that. We will buy more companies in the future but we are not going to rush it.”

Part two of the interview will follow this week.

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