At Pitchdrive, we help startups focus on growing their business instead of spending valuable months trying to raise the capital they need to accelerate. We believe that founders should focus on discovering, connecting and getting funded.
One startup that has benefited from investment through Pitchdrive is London-based company Hotel Manager. We caught up with its CEO and Co-Founder, Ajwad Hashim, to learn more about the startup’s journey and how it has benefited from Pitchdrive’s expertise.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Ajwad. Can you introduce us to Hotel Manager?
Hotel Manager lets hotels connect with their guests through a white-labelled guest app using our simple no-code platform. Having started the company just under 1.5 years ago, we're on a mission to change the way guests connect with hotel services and the wider tourism ecosystem.
Being passionate travellers ourselves, we have spent a lot of time in hotel rooms as individuals and were surprised by the sheer lack of technology available to guests, given what we had come to expect as consumers of other verticals (Uber, Deliveroo etc.). Most tools in the post-booking territory are operational and not experience-oriented.
Hotels were falling behind and still relied on a big book of printed services in the bedroom to maximise guest spend. We then spent time speaking to travellers and found there was a real need for better guest engagement, prompting us to research the industry.
In 2019, we founded Hotel Manager, an all in one, B2B software-as-a-service platform. Hoteliers can use our drag-and-drop features to build their own branded mobile guest app. Users don’t need to have any coding skills to use the platform, and can launch their app to start engaging with their guests immediately.
The platform includes industry-leading features, such as automated check-in, guest data analytics and integration with existing hotel software. Guests can also order room service, order 3rd party services and chat directly with the hotel reception through the messaging platform.
What were the circumstances that led you to seeking investment?
We launched our MVP in January 2020 and went live with our first hotel. We’d had some fantastic traction with our initial clients and they loved the product so much that they wanted to roll out the solution to other hotels in their group, as well as introducing us to new hotel partners.
Unfortunately, within months of our launch, COVID hit and the global hospitality industry went into shut down as countries locked down. We decided to focus on developing unique features and continue to waitlist customers in preparation for reopening.
As hotels reopened in the summer of 2020, we saw an increased demand for mobile guest apps, with our product providing the perfect solution for socially-distanced customer engagement.
We saw an opportunity to capitalise on the disruption that was driving change in the industry. So, we looked for investment partners to help fund business development as well as provide expertise to guide us in scaling our business.
Why did you choose Pitchdrive?
Prior to launching our MVP, we had started to network with investors in order to introduce our business and build our networks amongst the community. We found connecting with investors a completely new experience and when the world went into lockdown, this became exponentially harder to do. We were unable to meet investors face-to-face and it became more of a challenge to find the right partners for our specific needs.
Whilst researching investment partners, we found an article about Pitchdrive published on Foundr. It was refreshing to read about how Pitchdrive used data to make quick decisions and provided funding within days.
Our experience up until that point was that securing investment was a painful process and one that requires several meetings. We typically had to provide demonstrations, slide packs and updates, only to find thatthe decision would be delayed or put on hold due to COVID.
With Pitchdrive, those frustrations just didn’t exist.
How have you benefited?
We’ve benefited in lots of ways, but mostly from how efficient the Pitchdrive process was. It was only two days after we made contact that we had an initial chat with them, and the next day, we were scheduled for a pitch. It took approximately 3 weeks end-to-end from our application to hear we were successful.
We’ve also greatly benefited from Pitchdrive’s expertise. The investors and advisors are really passionate about the product and that’s motivating for us too. They understood what we were doing instantly and started coming up with ideas from our first conversation.
We have regular brainstorming sessions with our investors and their insights have been extremely useful. It’s great to be able to learn from their experiences and benefit from the extensive Pitchdrive network to make better decisions.
What has the process been like?
The Pitchdrive process was by far the quickest and most engaging process we’ve gone through. Throughout the interview process, we were tested and challenged, helping us to explore new ideas and validate our thinking. Having direct contact with investors throughout the process has been incredible and the regular power board sessions have really helped focus our thinking.
Pitchdrive has a really great understanding of startup businesses and we felt they knew exactly what we needed and how to achieve it. Throughout the application process and legal phase, we had lots of questions, and felt that Pitchdrive’s approach focused on building a partnership rather than just a financial investment.
There has been transparency on both sides and we feel we’ve found fantastic partners who can truly help us take Hotel Manager to the next level.
Would you recommend Pitchdrive to other startups?
Absolutely. The process was simple and engaging, with feedback and regular updates throughout. As a founder, you want to focus on running your business and working with Pitchdrive allowed us to finalise our funding round quickly and get back to building our company.
Now, as an Alumni company, we find that they offer the perfect balance of not being too hands-on and letting you grow as you want, yet being a slack message away for support and advice.
Pitchdrive help us to keep our investors updated through a single platform, allowing us to provide regular data driven updates that are shared with our investors on our behalf.
Any advice for other startups looking to secure funding?
When you onboard an investor, they become part of your business and finding the right investor is critical. Your initial investors are going to have a huge impact on the success of your business and matching their expertise to your start-ups needs is more important than the amount of money invested.
It’s important to have a strong belief in your business and a deep understanding of your industry, product and business pl
an. Investors are looking for partners they can work with and individuals who are committed to their start up.
If you want to benefit from data-driven guidance to build an investable company and turn your dreams into a successful enterprise, sign up to Pitchdrive today.