Running a hostel proved more difficult than Michelle and Guy McBride had thought.
There was no booking and management site to account for the last-minute whims of travelers who hop bed to bed for months or years at a time. Much of the operations of the business still happened with pen and paper—it was the only way to manage the process in real-time.
They also knew from a decade of travels together and hundreds of hostel stays (They met in Las Vegas and immediately bonded over their shared love of hostels) that it was hard to find one place on the Internet to search and book rooms or beds.
March 31st, they’ll reveal their technology solution for the problem, called Hostel Rocket..
In 2013, the pair left the hostel they owned in Yosemite, California to move to Guy’s hometown of Durham. They entered Groundwork Labs and applied for an NC IDEA grant and to the Startup Factory for help building a site that made hostels simple to find and search and provided a back end real-time management system for operators. Though declined for the grant, they’ve joined the newest class at the Factory, a team Chris Heivly of the Factory calls “long-time hostel hustlers” who “have deep domain expertise and a CTO with incredible credentials around here.”
The McBrides spent months of 2013 surveying the market and building buzz for the coming platform, and in December sold the hostel to focus full-time on the business. When the site launches, it’ll have the most hostel inventory in the world of travel bookings sites, Michelle says. The pair expects to make money from booking fees and selling software to operators.
Helping out are two experienced software developers, CTO Donald Mullen, a fellow hosteler with 25 years of experience building software, launching products and putting together teams, and a senior software developer.
“It’s a really fragmented industry,” Michelle says. “We’re focused on being a very simplistic way for travelers to search and book travel and save time and money, in a system that eliminates over-bookings.”