At Wilbur Labs, the SF-based startup studio behind VacationRenter, we have quarterly company offsites where we book a vacation rental to work for a few days in a different city. This should be a relatively easy process, but every time we search for a rental, it takes hours of planning and work. We find ourselves scrolling through pages of search results and jumping from site to site, trying to find the ideal place for the best price.
While doing searches, we kept noticing the results were not tailored to our specific needs. There was no way to verify that we were actually getting the best deal after booking a rental. As a result, we spent a lot of time thinking about how large this opportunity was in terms of the number of vacation renters and property owners who would be impacted if we could make the process easier, especially in light of the scale and complexity of working with multiple inventory sources.
Our startup studio model is to identify pain points we can remedy with automation and AI. Our own experience as customers led to the realization that the vacation rental space had the kind of problems we could fix.
No one had yet come up with a way to truly personalize vacation rental search results. We wanted to change that so that it would be easy to find the right rental.
Why Launch a New Company?
At Wilbur Labs, we use automation to solve big problems. When evaluating potential ideas, we decide to move forward if we have an entirely new concept, or an idea that can improve a current industry by 10x. We knew we could make the search for a vacation rental at least 10x better. That’s why we launched VacationRenter.
The last thing we wanted to do was offer another website cluttered with vacation rental listings, or a meta search product with poor user experience.
Rather than add to the noise and confusion of all the search results for vacation rentals, we use automation and AI to personalize the many search results that already exist based upon real time signals regarding consumer intent. We built VacationRenter from the ground up to be frictionless across all devices.
We listened closely to feedback from our users and incorporated it as we refined VacationRenter’s user experience. Two months after our soft launch, we completely rebuilt the UX based on testing and user feedback. We push updates to production an average of four times per week. The result of this iterative process has been extremely rapid improvement and compelling sales growth.
The Company Today
We have reached a $100 million annual booking run-rate in a very short time during this soft launch. To the best of our knowledge, this is the fastest growth of anyone in this space. This tells us that a lot of people want a better search experience, and that VacationRenter is the solution they have been looking for. With the $3 million investment behind VacationRenter, we will build on what we’ve already accomplished, and accelerate this impressive growth.
Check out our announcement for more details about our launch.
We’re hiring to grow the VacationRenter team. View current openings here: https://www.wilburlabs.com/careers
As we continue to scale up and develop a better rental search experience, we’ll leverage our funding to invest in new integrations, enhance our automation, and expand our reach.
We’re proud to offer a far better search experience for people looking for the perfect rental at the best price. And we’re going to continue to make it better.