Look up “entrepreneur” in the dictionary, and you may find a picture of Andrew McConnell (or if it’s not there, it should be). Andrew has been in the business of redefining today’s ideas of property management contracts and fees through rented.com, a world-class marketplace for competitive short-term rentals. As a Harvard and Cambridge graduate with plenty of global enterprise experience under his belt, Andrew is changing the rental management industry and creating a better experience for all. Here’s his story:
As entrepreneurs ourselves, we love knowing how other entrepreneurs start their day. What does your morning routine look like?
Well, my wife and I have a new baby, so our day starts based on her schedule – anywhere between 3:00 A.M. – 6:00 A.M. My wife is an attorney, so it was important that we partner together those first weeks in order to both be able to work. She stayed home with the baby the first six weeks, and then I’ve taken over the last six. So after I feed the baby and get things set up for her, I spend about half an hour catching up on emails and anything that happened to pop up overnight. From there, I bring the baby with me into the home office and start work. Depending on the day, I’ll be in video conference meetings with the team or conducting executive one-on-one meetings. If I’m not in meetings, I typically save my mornings for writing – lately, it’s been a mix between industry-specific topics for our blog and articles drawing a parallel between startups and parenthood. After lunch, I typically head to the gym and then have all my West Coast meetings in the afternoon. Then we have dedicated family time from 6:30 P.M. – 9 P.M. but typically my wife and I both go back online after 9 P.M. to get a few more things done. We try to be in bed by 11 P.M.
Full-time dad and CEO? That’s a lot to fit into one day! Tell me…what spurred you on to create rented.com in the first place?
It was really a single conversation; a light bulb kind of moment. In January of 2012, I was in Turks and Caicos with my family and overheard two vacation property owners telling horror stories of all the time and hassle involved in self-managing their properties. I immediately emailed my now co-founder Mickey Kropf and fleshed the idea out – we thought about what it would look like for managers to bid against each other to buy an entire year from the homeowner for a guaranteed amount. The idea being the homeowners got the highest amount of money without risk, and the best managers would ultimately win once they put their money where their mouth was. Mickey hopped on board and rented was born. rented.com is now in 17 countries, 38 states and over 300 cities around the world.
Now, I saw that you went to Harvard and worked for McKinsey & Co. as well as Axiom. How does all of that experience play into your business methods?
I took a little bit away from each experience for sure. At both Harvard Law and McKinsey, I learned how to break down business problems into components to better solve them. Because McKinsey was such a large organization, the main thing I took away was how to properly run a business and problem solve. At Axiom, I had a little more freedom to implement my ideas and make an impact.
How was it to go from very cushy jobs at McKinsey and Axiom to a bootstrap startup?
I learned that taking something from 0 employees to 1 employee is a very different skill than getting from 1 to 10 or 10 to 100. Both Mickey and I had professional wives that brought in enough income to allow us to pour our time and finances into rented.com with little risk. My wife and I started our marriage by putting one of our paychecks every month into savings, so when I wasn’t bringing in any income for two years, we weren’t starving.
That’s a really smart financial move. What tools did use to help you scale your business once you got it off the ground?
Honestly, I knew nothing about starting a company, and a lot of it was trial and error. We thought we needed all of these platforms and processes to execute our ideas, but an advisor helped us realize that we did not have to develop every single piece of technology to succeed. Rather, we needed to determine what our core competency was, and build the BEST technology around that. For most other things, like payment processing, there were great providers already out there. We use Google Apps for most things, but we use HubSpot for marketing automation and Salesforce for our CRM. We started using Acuity for payroll and then payment processing. As we grew, we needed help keeping up with our books. Now we have a part-time CFO and part-time Controller. Acuity has been able to come alongside us every step of the way to be the consistent expert through every stage of growth. They have been an irreplaceable part of our business who has definitely been able to grow and scale with us.
To see more of Andrew’s Story – Check it out here.