Meet the Real Estate Tech Founder: Jason Fudin from WhyHotel
In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with Jason Fudin from WhyHotel.
Without further ado…
What do you do?
I am Jason Fudin, co-founder of WhyHotel, the alternative lodging service that operates “turn-key, pop-up hotels” out of the vacancy of newly built luxury apartments, only during lease-up. My co-founder, Bao Vuong and I created WhyHotel to blur the line between hospitality and home. WhyHotel’s concept provides developers with a new way to utilize units during lease-up and provides visitors/guests with a new way to travel.
Both Bao and I have a real estate background and WhyHotel was actually originally incubated at Vornado Realty Trust, a large publicly traded REIT. WhyHotel takes units that have yet to be leased when a large high-rise apartment building completes construction and adds a modern hospitality service to turn the building’s inherent vacancy into a temporary, 24/7 on-site staffed luxury hotel. We scale the unit count with the building’s natural delivery and leasing pace, gradually winding down our footprint as units are leased to long-term residents, and ultimately exiting altogether once all units are leased.
In 2017 we spun off WhyHotel as an independent company set to change the way urban core developments think about their lease-ups. Today, where you see cranes in the sky and empty buildings, we see an opportunity for communities to thrive. It’s a curiosity and desire to learn and improve that drives our team to deliver a better hospitality experience.
What problem does your product/service solve?
WhyHotel delivers a “like-home” experience for its guests. Our business model provides the value and space of a home-share and the consistency and service of a hotel. Travelers love WhyHotel because our team hosts them in a brand-new home away from home, with full kitchens, bedrooms, living space, washer/dryers, and additional amenities. Residents in the buildings embrace the WhyHotel concept because they view us as an amenity, offering discounted (or even free) room nights and a la carte hospitality services. Cities are in favor of WhyHotel’s use because we provide new jobs, additional tax revenue, and a tool for them to increase the inventory of residential apartments for rent in the long-term. Real estate developers are excited to partner with WhyHotel because we de-risk their projects with instant additional income, and early activation of the building/surrounding area.
WhyHotel was born out of the needs of the real estate development industry to deliver large developments in the most economically efficient way possible – producing interim income and activating a building during lease-up. Our concept can be scaled up to address/mitigate lease-up risk as a universal pain point for high-rise developments across the nation.
What are you most excited about right now?
I’m most excited about scaling WhyHotel in 2019 and bringing our unique service to new cities across the country. We’ve been working hard to set the ground work for a great year and we have some exciting announcements coming down the pipeline. With the 5M+ hotel rooms in service in the US, and the 1M+ vacation rentals, there is a significant market opportunity for a better way to stay.
What’s next for you?
Having just announced our $10M Series A round, led by Highland Capital Partners, our next challenge will be hiring to build out our team, brand, and hotel portfolio. We are growing rapidly. We have 50 employees today, but will be topping 200 by the end of 2019. We are hiring our first suite of executives and building our larger teams in almost every function, and WhyHotel is looking for leaders at every level to join our fast-moving startup. Our focus is to hire a team of A-players with diverse backgrounds, who can bring their different perspectives and invaluable experience to help us write the next chapter of WhyHotel.
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I don’t know that family counts as a “cause”, but all of our “out of work passion” is devoted to our families. Both myself and Bao have young families and we spend all of our free time with our kids, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, etc.
Thanks to Jason for sharing his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).