The FORT Podcast: John Andrew Entwistle – Founder & CEO of Wander – Vertically Integrating The STR Industry
John Andrew is a Thiel Fellow, recipient of the Forbes 30 Under 30 award and he was recently named to Business Insider’s Rising Stars of Real Estate. He started his first internet company at age 13, and at age 17 he co-founded Coder.com (“Coder”) – a platform that moves the development environment (where software engineers write code) to an organization’s cloud infrastructure. Coder is backed by Redpoint, GGV, Founders Fund, and Bessemer, with large enterprise customers such as Goldman Sachs and Palantir. After co-founding and running Coder as CEO for six years, he stepped down in 2021 and began his next venture, Wander.com which enjoys the support of QED Investments and Redpoint among others.
On this episode, Chris & John discuss:
➡️ Starting his first business at 13 and eventually becoming a Thiel Fellow
➡️ How Wander works and what they’re looking to accomplish going forward
➡️ Wander’s STR REIT and how the capital markets work in STR
➡️ What travel and hospitality will look like in 10 years
(00:02:40) – John’s upbringing and early career
(00:07:02) – The impact John’s father had on him
(00:10:56) – The experience of being a Thiel Fellow
(00:15:22) – John’s skillset as a Founder
(00:19:36) – Wander
(00:27:41) – Are you able to capitalize this with Debt?
(00:30:05) – What is a great yield on a well-performing STR?
(00:30:31) – What makes a great home for Wander?
(00:34:28) – How are your homes outfitted to make them stand out?
(00:37:52) – How do you work with vendors?
(00:40:31) – What are some member benefits?
(00:43:48) – What needs to die off in this industry?
(00:47:19) – What does the typical customer look like?
(00:49:44) – Is there room in your market for hotel-sized homes?
(00:51:56) – Do you ever worry about zoning or STR regulations?
(00:55:32) – Is there concentration risk?
(00:57:39) – How would one value a business like Wander?
(01:02:04) – Where will you be in 5 years?
(01:07:24) – Where is your favorite Wander?
In a riveting episode of the Chris Powers Show, listeners were treated to an insightful exploration of the short-term rental industry from the perspective of an industry maven, John Entwistle. As the founder of Wander, Entwistle’s credentials extend beyond mere titles. Having been an entrepreneur since age 13, John’s accolades also include being a Teal fellow and a name in Forbes’ 30 under 30.
The episode kicked off with a deep dive into the short-term rental industry, elucidating its burgeoning growth and untapped potential. Entwistle emphasized the fragmented nature of this sector, marked by a plethora of marketplaces, property managers, and asset managers. He shed light on Wander’s strategic vision to vertically integrate these fragments, thereby carving out a niche for themselves in an otherwise saturated market.
A significant highlight of the conversation was Wander’s ambition of owning a vast portfolio of world-class properties. Entwistle underscored the operational aspect of the business, detailing how the firm is revolutionizing operations to be more efficient, cost-effective, and client-centric.
Diverging slightly from the mainstay of rentals, the discourse meandered into the future of travel and hospitality. Entwistle and Powers deliberated on the prospective landscape over the next decade, identifying key shifts, potential impacts, and opportunities. A pivotal takeaway was the emphasis on enhancing travel experiences, driven by the belief that the confluence of hospitality and evolving consumer needs could re-shape the industry’s trajectory.
One of the episode’s more innovative discussions centered on the intersectionality of hospitality and office spaces. Entwistle advocated for the infusion of hospitality elements into office environments. He envisaged a transformative workspace where employees and visitors experience the warmth and personal touch characteristic of hotels, thereby revolutionizing corporate atmospheres.
However, no industry exploration is complete without addressing its challenges. Entwistle candidly spoke about the operational complexities introduced by incorporating restaurants and bars into hotels. While enhancing guest experience, the unpredictable nature of Food & Beverage (F&B) services presents unique hurdles. Additionally, the rise of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, coupled with the repercussions of the global pandemic, has necessitated a strategic re-evaluation for many in the industry. Yet, in Entwistle’s balanced viewpoint, these challenges coexist with unique advantages, such as the agility to adjust prices as a hedge against inflation.
Towards the conclusion, listeners were privy to a more personal reflection from Entwistle. Drawing inspiration from his life experiences and philosophical musings, he accentuated the importance of perseverance, faith, and trusting in a higher power.
In summary, this episode with John Entwistle presented an amalgamation of professional insights, strategic foresight, and personal reflections. For anyone vested in the short-term rental industry, hospitality, or simply seeking entrepreneurial wisdom, this episode stands out as a beacon of knowledge and perspective.
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