The Adormo story

Last week I met many mentors.
In order to make it more interesting I decided to first tell them my story.

I told it about 16 times and now I decided to write it down.
So, in case you want to introduce Adormo you can share it with your friends, investors and mentors.

It’s short (as 13 years can be),  and to the point.

 

2001 – the idea

I spent the year 2000 around Australia and Asia, came back to Italy determined to make some money online and travel forever and had an idea which could work.

It worked.

It allowed me to travel 10 years non stop (i.e. 11 months a year on the road, 50+ countries etc..).
It was an Airbnb-before-Airbnb thing: I collected apartments, took pictures, made a website, got requests, converted them into bookings and collected a commission on each one.

It was a one man show, with no investments or help.
Here you can read more about it.

 

2005 – the system

To serve owners and customer I had to hire a Reservation Manager in every city and collect the apartments myself.
While I was in China I decided to make things smoother: I hired a chinese developer to build an automated system, he did it and it was a hit.
The code was horrible, but it was a hit anyway (yes my dear developers, sometimes the code can be horrible but you may launch anyway).
Some of the features, like the reviews and the centralized and filtered messaging service which you see in every website today were a first in the industry.
From that moment I only needed one Reservation Manager for all the cities. The main job was done by owners and customers themselves.

 

2008 – the new system and the crisis

It was growing too fast (I had reached 50.000 € in commissions per year, with  less than 10.000 € costs) and I knew that sooner or later the database was going to explode.
So I looked for real developers, got them in Siberia, went there (in winter!) and started the development of Adormo.

Then the 2008 crisis hit, tourism went down 30%, my business went down 30% and I could not pay the developers anymore.
We were only started with the Adormo development and I was stuck.
What to do? I was in the corner.

 

2009 – selling a dream

I decided to sell a dream to get out of  the corner.
In Italy I was known as “the guy who travels full time”.
The biggest Italian private radio followed me for months while I was travelling along the brazilian coast with a surfing board (I never learnt to surf but that’s another story) and a national newspaper wrote a full page about me once and gave me a travel column for a while.

Adormo was a CMS which lets you build a local Airbnb (the idea predated Airbnb but it’s the easiest way to explain it nowadays).
So, I published an article in my blog saying:
“if you want to travel full time like me I will give you the software and the knowledge to create your own business. Give me a 1000 € each and we’ll do this together.”
It was in incubator of a sort, only that I was paid for the service.

I got my future customers to fund me.

21 of these guys and girls, joined, I collected 21.000 € and could continue the development.

Laster more joined,  paying 2000 € each, and we were able to finish the product.

 

2012 – the market has changed

Airbnb changed the market directly (by getting some parts of it) and indirectly (by inspiring copycats and waking up the sleeping giant Booking.com) and we were screwed.

This is a visibility business.
People are still uneducated and book on the portals they see.
No the best ones, not the cheapest ones.
Just what they see.

We had a better service, curated content, local managers, better prices and so on, but there was no way to be seen by the masses.
Organic visibility? Gone.
Adwords? Forget it. There was (and there is) a bloody war going on, we can’t just afford to be part of it.
Let them kill each other and see who survives while Google makes billions out of it.

But we were screwed.  As simple as that.

(To be fair a third of the Managers got some money and are profitable, one guy even got something close to 15.000 € in commissions in one year, but for the majority it was just too hard to make some serious cash).

 

2013 – The new idea: Distribution.

In July last year we lived together with some Managers in an old country house in the fields in the Friuli region.
Bookings were scarce , revenue decreasing and we needed a new idea fast.

Here I was in the corner again.

Then one owner writes to me and tells me:

  • “You’re not sending me enough customers anymore Luca”
  • “You’re saying that your apartments are just in Adormo?”
  • “Yes sure, you always sent me many customers in the past”
  • “Well, things changed. You need to put them in many other portals now”.
  • “I don’t have time. I don’t know which ones.”
  • “Ok, I can do it for you, is that ok?”
  • ” I don’t care what you do, just bring me customers”

“I don’t care what you do, just bring me customers” was a revelation.

Three days later we started getting bookings for him from Airbnb, Flipkey, HouseTrip and so on. Each booking generated a commission.

A new business model served on a silver plate.

 

2014 – Eleven

We replicated this model in other cities, it worked but this time I knew it wouldn’t last ten years.
There’s too much money and hype in the vacation rental business nowadays.
So we’re going to be part of it: we want the money and we want the hype.
And we’re going to try to make it big fast.

Not that we have any other choice: it’s either big fast or dead soon.

So we joined Eleven, got some funding,  got access to experts in various field, hopefully we’ll get more funding and we’re ready to fly.

 

P.S.
If you want to be part of this story with money, expertise or any help, please drop  me a line.

 

 

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