This startup helps Airbnb hosts make a greater profit. Here’s the pitch deck it used to raise $1.85 million.

Annie Sloan and Mikel Hubbard sitting in a desert in chairs with a table in front
  • Annie Sloan and Mikel Hubbard met working for HGTV and were familiar with the property world. 
  • They launched an online retail solution for Airbnb hosts to sell products in their rentals.
  • They announced their $1.85 million seed round in March. Here’s the pitch deck they used to fundraise.

Annie Sloan and Mikel Hubbard both worked as producers for HGTV and met in the mid-2000s. After both left the network, Sloan worked on contract as a creative director at Facebook in 2020. 

Sloan was also a property host on Airbnb, and at the time, Hubbard was a property manager. 

They began talking about the lack of resources for short-term rentals and noticed that when guests check into a property, hosts often cannot make any additional revenue. 

Sloan told Insider that Airbnb hosts faced “a sunk cost after your guest checks in.” She added guests want to get their money’s worth so they’ll “crank up the AC” or “use two gallons of dish soap.”

The ex-HGTV producers came up with The Host Co. – a retail platform that allows hosts to sell products they display in their short-term rental spaces via scannable QR codes. Hosts can sell essential items like Advil and Gatorade, or more luxurious products like blankets and candles. 

Sloan started working full-time on the business in August 2020.

According to Sloan, most hosts have display items and store further stock in a closet. Guests can access the items after being told where it is on their email receipt.

Sloan said advisors from Airbnb suggested they’d tried a similar product in-house, which was successful but didn’t align with the company’s main focus.

The Host Co. began raising money before its launch in late 2021 after a six-month beta test that Sloan and Hubbard bootstrapped to $100,000. 

Sloan and Hubbard launched their business to the public in February 2022 and announced the  $1.85-million seed round in March, which they’d raised in six months after initially setting out to raise $1.5 million.

Sloan walked Insider through the pitch deck they used to attract angel investors like Joe Thomas, the CEO and co-founder of Loom.

Courtesy of The Host Co.

When approaching the introductory tagline for this pitch deck, Sloan told Insider they asked themselves “how do we convey the benefit in three words?” Their answer was “shop your Airbnb”.

She added it was crucial to highlight how the product would benefit the “guest experience” early on in the deck.

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan said this photo was first because it shows how hosts can curate “very high-quality items”  that “elevates your experience of staying in an Airbnb.”

“On the bottom, there’s a very small tag, but otherwise there is nothing that conveys you shop here,” she added.

Sloan also said that the photo includes local products. One of the company’s “strongest values” is encouraging hosts to sell local wares. 

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan used this photo to reinforce the experience of being in an Airbnb.

Airbnbs are “a retail experience,” according to Sloan. “You’re walking around, you’re touching that blanket, your feet are on the floor,” she said.  “We’re showing all of these things can be shoppable,” she added. “All of those things should be for sale.”

Three bullet points on this slide are in response to questions investors have asked Sloan about the business model.

She told Insider an investor once said, “I’ve never wanted to buy anything in my Airbnb.” She responded: “Have you ever forgotten your toothpaste and needed some?”

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan told Insider she wanted to show investors what the technology would look like since the concept had not existed previously. Sloan wanted to convey to the investors they had “put a lot of thought into the design for this product.”

She said that the design of the virtual storefront is intentionally simple to avoid overcomplicating the purchasing process. 

According to Sloan, most holiday purchases on the platform were impulse purchases. People get vacation brain and the adrenaline of spending money on an Airbnb, so The Host Co. is “playing into what guests want,” she added.

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan said this slide helps investors understand the business concept from the host’s perspective. The product is conventionally guest-focused.

The social proof shows the demand from hosts, as well as the benefits to guests, Sloan told Insider.

Sloan added the screenshots to show investors “proof” that hosts also want this idea.

She said that Airbnb hosts are their main customers, adding: “We get 7% of a sale from the host and then we add a small convenience fee on the guest side of 8%.”

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan wanted to include numbers that help conceptualize the market’s scale and the gap for retail offerings.

The market is growing, according to Sloan, but “none of these short-term rentals have a retail component or upsell component.” 

The company wanted to convey the “incredible opportunity to be in this space”, she added. 

Sloan told Insider that the company took inspiration from Poshmark’s scaling model. “We don’t stock any products, we are just the marketplace that facilitates all of these exchanges,” she said.

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan told Insider that she wanted to help investors understand that the product benefits women; primarily, older women, reflecting the demographic of vacation-rental hosts.

The company is empowering “primarily women to make more money,” Sloan said. 

When conceptualizing The Host Co., Sloan reflected on her travels aboard. She said she thought of “all the places I’ve stayed and all of the things I would have liked to buy.”

According to Sloan, sometimes these add-ons can make up more than the rental cost in cheaper locations. 

“This year we are only in the United States”, but The Host Co. is looking to expand and increase the benefit it has, she said.

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan said it’s uncommon to pitch pre-launch, so this roadmap was a way to show investors that they had a clear and actionable plan to grow. 

She said, with this slide, she wanted to convey that The Host Co. was a “strong investment” and “how much could be made in this space.”

The Host Co. has almost reached its 500-listing target for June 2022.

Courtesy of The Host Co.

Sloan used this slide because she wanted to show investors that the total addressable market for this product is “absolutely huge.”

With their industry knowledge, they have the “opportunity to market to over 400,000 hosts, because they’re all in Facebook groups,” she added.

Sloan mentioned the Airbnb Superhosts Facebook group has more than 140,000 members.

The Host Co. is building up slowly and has been talking to HGTV shows about the potential of appearing on them to publicize the company, Sloan said.

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

Close icon Two crossed lines that form an ‘X’. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.