News > Lifestyle, 4:01

Ex-asset manager and ex-consultant launch startup catering to Airbnb renters

By FinBuzz
Lifestyle, 4:01

After graduating from London Business School, Zoe Vu and Alexander Lyakhotskiy, who previously worked in asset management and consulting, created a startup instead of returning back to the corporate ladder, writes FinBuzz. 

These days this cycle is becoming more and more popular, as professionals loosen their ties and swap business suits for a pair of jeans and sneakers.

Two MBA graduates of London Business School, fresh from the class of 2015, Vu and Lyakhotskiy, quite successful in their corporate careers, have recently chosen this path as well.

This May, they have launched Pass the Keys, a company that offers full Airbnb management services to help busy individuals manage their rental or spare flats. Since its inception in May, the startup has been growing by double digits each month, with new clients signing up every week.

By June the company was serving its first clients and started making revenues. Now they are working with flat owners from the UK, Portugal, Singapore, Malaysia and Russia, increasing revenues by 50% each month. What’s more, they are working really hard, getting ready to raise £150,000 in funding this winter.

Clearly, the business has huge potential, taking into account that currently there are 18,000 (up from 13,000 last year) Airbnb listings in London alone. There are also almost 300,000 second homes, 3 million rentals and £50 billion in rental income in central London. The US competitor, Pillow Homes, has already raised around $2.65 million in funding.

Prior to their entrepreneurial path, Vu worked in asset management at AIG and was responsible for $7bn of investments.

Lyakhotskiy spent three years in McKinsey, having completed various projects in the Russian banking industry, including strategy and headcount optimization. They met at London Business School when they both did the MBA program.

“To me, entrepreneurship is the only great alternative to continuing careers in finance or consulting. Corporate careers do not provide as fast paced career growth as in finance. And I am moving at a really fast pace,” Lyakhotskiy replied when asked why he took the entrepreneurial route.

The business is based on the idea of a shared economy (or collaborative consumption), a fairly recent economic phenomenon, in which individuals share access to products and services.

In 2014, Alex was on an exchange semester in HAAS, Berkeley, California and noticed the impact of the sharing economy, particularly platforms like Uber, Airbnb and Lyft. One of his friends was renting out his place on Airbnb and charging more than £300 pounds per night, netting more than £7000 per month. Quite a promising endeavor! However, managing Airbnb can take up to 40 hours of work per month.

“This was an ‘aha!’ moment when we realized that many people can benefit from letting their places on Airbnb short-term but do not have time or possibility to do it themselves. When people are traveling abroad they don’t want to worry about guests in their place, whether the cleaner has come on time. They also don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night by a call from guests saying that the boiler stopped working. Thus, I realized that a complete service package is required to make the process hassle-free,” said Lyakhotskiy.

Pass the Keys helps its clients to list their places, price the property, organizes cleaning, laundry and guest meet & greet. The company also provides extra concierge ser

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