The start-up diaries volume 1: From zero to zero




Each month "JJ", SAN's very own secret hotelier, brings us the ups and downs he encounters in his most ambitious challenge to date, the launch of a new aparthotel brand.

There are a lot of problems right now, which means, for the creative and forward looking, there is a huge amount of opportunity.

Entrepreneurs in their most basic form create solutions to problems. However, the best ones create solutions for tomorrow's problems...not today's.

In the hospitality industry the question is, will investors, owners and operators fall back on the safety net of what they know - big brands that do it the way it has always be done or will they take a risk and back new brands that are both innovative and forward looking?

Although, as an industry we are on our knees, for those who can look past the next 12 months, there is also optimism about where we will be in three to four years' time, with a lot of average operators and product not surviving, and a lot of new brands, that are more innovative, more connected and more socially aware of their impact, thriving.

I believe that the biggest single change that will come out of this time, will be one that we cannot see or touch, that of individuals, companies and groups within our society fundamentally changing and shifting their opinions, values and beliefs - for the better.

This is the first article of a series, following the ups and downs of creating, launching, raising, building and opening all the parts of a business that go into a new aparthotel brand (to be revealed at a later date!).

I've done this before - and it is tough, really tough. If you don't like rejection, making cold calls and are not prepared to be extraordinarily patient and persistent, you will not run the course.

To move the hospitality, and in particular, the hotel industry forwards and appeal to an 'affected society' we will need to provide more than we have, as an industry, ever done before.

One area, that has always astounded me, is how the industry has not absorbed more sustainable practices.

Let's just be clear - if you are involved or starting a hospitality business today that does not have sustainability at the core of everything it does, you are not only missing out on a commercial opportunity, you are taking a huge commercial risk.

The mission of this new brand is to demonstrate that hospitality and sustainability can thrive together, with the hope that other brands follow the steps that are taken and reduce their carbon footprint, cut chemical usage, move towards being zero waste and provide sustainably healthy environments for their staff and guests.

Investors only need to look at the stampede to launch ESG or impact funds. The FT reported recently that there will be more ESG-based funds than normal funds by 2025. I would love to know where these investors are finding the companies to invest in...or are they all investing in the same ones?

However, this presents an opportunity for those who are forward looking, based upon the simple dynamics of supply and demand. This should in-turn encourage companies to be sustainably and socially focused, which will result in higher valuations and/or yield compression as more ESG funds chase the companies or real estate that fits.

I hope you join me on the ups and downs and ins and outs of starting a new brand in the hospitality sector and the ideas I have that are good, bad and sometimes ugly.

I will share my thoughts on how I believe hospitality brands should be built and the opportunity to create great, meaningful brands that will benefit staff, guests, communities and suppliers - which will ultimately compound to benefit investors, meaning more growth and ultimately less impact on the planet.

I intend to do this by posting my experiences from this side of the fence, so you can get a feel for launching a new brand and concept into the investor community and the steps that need to be taken to get something from concept to reality. It could be a long journey, but patience and persistence will hopefully prevail!

Hopefully we will go from zero to zero impact and create something meaningful along the way.

 

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