#049: Amazing Hospitality Isn’t Just Reserved for Five Star Hotels – Cloudbeds

Cloudbeds co-founder Adam Harris lost sleep so you could sleep better.

When you hear the name “Cloudbeds” you’re more likely to think of a Tempur-Pedic competitor than a tech startup.

More so, when you think tech startup, you’re probably more likely to think Silicon Valley than San Diego.

Well, think again.

Stopping by the Behind the Smoke podcast (now called Digital Hospitality) to talk with hosts Shawn Walchef and Derek Marso, Cloudbeds co-founder Adam Harris and his team are changing the narrative of the tech industry and the hospitality space in Southern California through the click of your smartphone.

Like most startups, it all began with a light bulb moment.

“We started the idea of Cloudbeds in my condo back in 2012,” recalls Adam. “We had the idea to professionalize small independent hospitality. We’ve all stayed in a bed and breakfast and boutique hotels are my favorite place to stay. Still, a lot of times small business owners don’t have the right tools to help them reach new guests. So, somewhere along the lines we were like, ‘Let’s build a platform.’”

That platform of course is Cloudbeds. While the tech startup space is often sold as fast and sleek, Adam and his team decided to seduce a more dated space.

His approach?

“Let’s go into the most unsexy industry that hasn’t changed in 25 years,” laughs Adam. “Let’s build something from the ground up so that we give these tools to, in spirit, make the world a little bit more welcome place.”

That is exactly what Adam and his team did: offer improved resources to the boutique hotel and bed and breakfast industry for better digital hospitality.

So, at this point, you know who started Cloudbeds, why it was started and where it was founded. But just exactly what does Cloudbeds do?

We’ll let Adam handle that.

“Cloudbeds is a connector into all the point of sales that we commonly use,” explains Adam. “AirBnB, HomeAway, Booking.com, Expedia, things like that. So, it doesn’t matter where the guest is shopping, we’re reaching real time inventory. Just like Amazon makes it easy to buy products anywhere in the world with the click of a button, we did the same thing on the hotel side. We’ve got about 202 employees and as of today, we’re in 31 countries around the world.”

The Amazon of finding a place to stay in 31 different countries? Maybe the idea was a little sexier than Adam gave it credit for.

As alluded, the reach of Cloudbeds has made the company and its clientele international. As expected, this all came from investing in their staff.

“We’re very focused on our employee,” Adam notes. “We love our staff. We invest in our staff because our formula is people first, customers second, business third. We take care of our employee. We invest in them. We give them the accountability, responsibility and empowerment to do well. They’re going to take care of the customer naturally, and if they take care of the customer, they’re going to take care of the business.”

Taking care of business is exactly what the Cloudbeds team does. Serving an international consumer requires the Cloudbeds staff to dive deep into the cultural norms and values of each area they serve around the world.

“We have 31 countries,” begins Adam. “That’s a lot of people. We think about the diversity of all those individuals and the cultural differences. We’ve had to retrain ourselves and our thought because we want that diversity — that’s what makes us special. It’s really grounded us as individuals to be more inclusive and also have more of a global mindset.”

Going global did not happen overnight and it did not happen alone. While Adam has turned Cloudbeds into a large-scale operation with over 200 employees and international reach, it was built like any startup you see today.

First with an idea and then with funding.

“Over a year, we raised $1 Million,” Adam says on early funding. “That’s a meaningful amount of money.”

Raising $1 Million in a year to bring your concept to life may sound like a dream come true. However, when you’re playing with other people’s money the pressure and demands can feel more like a nightmare.

Cloudbeds was far from an overnight success – no pun intended. The introductory funding did not return immediate results and forced Adam and his team to take a tough path.

“We just decided that we’re going to eat it,” Adam says on early hardships. “We’re going to keep going. We were going to take the punishment of failing for that first year.”

Failing that first year may have been tough then, but the early adversity forced Adam and his team to refine their focus and pivot into the amazing model they bring today.

“We went from being a consumer product to a business-to-business product,” Adam explains. “And that was a very difficult transition, but it was one that was natural because we had to do the business component first to even get access to what we were looking for.”

Since starting Cloudbeds, Adam has pushed through the pressures of early funding, a messy business break-up and powerful pivot to now employee over 200 team members and improve the hospitality industry worldwide.

He may have lost sleep building it, but he’s made sure Cloudbeds customers across the globe have slept better because of it.

“I am the luckiest person alive,” beams Adam. “And it’s a result of my co-founder. It’s a result of our early staff who stuck with us through the good and the bad.”

Rest assure, the sky is the limit for Cloudbeds.

— Article by Cali BBQ Media Content Producer Ian Stonebrook. Follow Ian Stonebrook on Instagram @ianstonebrook

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Behind the Smoke Featuring Adam Harris | CEO and Founder of Cloudbeds in San Diego, California

 

Episode Summary:

Adam Harris, the CEO and Co-Founder of Cloudbeds joined us above the butcher shop to talk about the challenges he faced when building their an end-to-end hotel management software company.

Today Cloudbeds has over two hundred employees in 31 countries and supports over 20,000 hotels. Cloudbeds has offices in San Diego, Brazil, Ireland, and Thailand.

Adam Harris shares his experiences from learning how to effectively communicate with investors, how to raise capital and the challenges in “divorcing” a business partner.

 

Cloudbeds Awards and Honors:

  • Hotel Tech Report – 10 Best Places in Hotel Tech to Work 2018
  • Inc Best Places to Work 2017
  • San Diego Venture Group Cool Company – 2015
  • Startup San Diego – Disruptive Tech – 2015
  • Connect Most Innovative New Product Awards – 2014

 

Mentioned in this Episode:

  • Cloudbeds Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
  • California Restaurant Association
  • Office Vibe
  • Turn That Ship Around by  L. David Marquet
  • Toast
  • Airbnb
  • Turf and Surf BBQ Competition
  • Turf and Surf Registration
  • #HotelApocalypse & San Diego ComicCon 2018

 

Weekly Social Shout Out:

@papabarks of Barkley Landscape Inc. — Winner of a sexy new #BehindTheSmoke Mug. Be sure to tag @calibbqmedia in all your #behindthesmoke photos and interact with the podcast on social for your chance to win. Remember… If we can’t tag you then we can’t pimp you.

 

Shareable Quotes From This Podcast:

“People first, customers second, business third” {6:50} -Adam

“No shortage of where technology can drive us” {10:15} –Adam

“You can take something from every place that you go” {12:30} –Derek

“It has been an incredible journey” {26:10} -Adam

“A little bit of luck is a part of business” {30:30} -Adam

“I always want my employees to feel empowered” {50:00} -Derek

“Leaders have two responsibilities to hit the numbers, and to create an environment for your staff and yourself to succeed in” {52:50} -Adam

 

Get in Touch with the hosts of Behind the Smoke: BBQ War Stories (now Digital Hospitality):

 

Cali BBQ Media

Cali Comfort BBQ

 

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