So...here I find myself, nearly 40 years after launching my first "official" business (moped rentals on Nantucket) doing yet another start-up business. Like most of my 100 plus (probably closer to 150 by now) start-ups, this one evolved from the spark of an idea fostered during another, completely unrelated project. I had met the founder of a boutique Destination Club while living in LA and instead of simply joining the Club, like anyone else would have done, I took on the assignment of doing Business Development for the gentleman. My project consisted of making the effort to expand his Club's reach into different ways to generate sales of new members.
In a little under two months, I put together some 31 strategic partnerships but alas, the corporate bureaucracy and overworked legal department could barely put pen to paper on 4 or 5 of these new, well conceived verticals. I quickly grew frustrated as well as bored...often the key ingredients of stoking the entrepreneurial fire.
I looked over the nice diagram that my talented virtual intern from the Stern School of Business at NYU had prepared for me, featuring each of my suggested partnerships and started at looking at all of the untapped possibilities. Why not start yet another venture of my own...one more time? Why not jump into a field I both knew well and invent a "better mouse trap?"
After all, I had once greatly enjoyed the lifestyle afforded by the private Destination Club, since becoming a member of the first one some 16 years ago. One of my Harvard OPM classmates had introduced me to his friend in Denver that not only invented fractional ownership in the vacation real estate field but actually pioneered the world's first Destination Club.
For those that do not know what a Destination Club is...its a private membership club that usually costs hundreds of thousands to join and tens of thousands of dollars in annual dues to "live the lifestyle of the rich and famous" by vacationing in multi million dollar homes in the most beautiful resort locales around the world. Each home, worth $2mm-$5mm or so, is beautifully appointed with the finest furnishings and is accompanied by an on-location staff of hosts (drivers and personal chefs too), who do their best to provide only the finest experience during your stay.
There was a plethora of great ideas that I'd come up with and which simply couldn't be acted upon in a timely manner by the consulting client. All I had to do was think about which one(s) to pick and then do what I do best...start my latest (ad)venture!
I had a vague idea of the opportunity facing me. The dynamics of Destination Clubs had changed a great deal over the past 16 years since being a member myself. There were only a couple of Destination Clubs left with the original model that my Harvard friend's buddy had started. Now there were "fractional equity ownerships" and any number of divinations in the field, coupled with vacation "home exchange" companies and literally hundreds of luxury vacation home rental agencies (VRMCs).
What became glaringly obvious to me was the simple fact that despite the prodigious efforts of million dollar marketing campaigns and high-powered sales teams...the fact remained that barely 26% of the time available in tens of billions of dollars of luxury homes across the world was ever utilized by homeowners, vacationers and club members combined. This meant (at least to me) that luxury vacation home inventory represented one of the single most untapped assets that I had ever stumbled across.
That became my new business idea...figure out a way to measure and monetize this vast unrealized asset.
Suffice it to say that the past 7 weeks (I just checked my records) have been a whirlwind of research, writing, phone calls, traveling and networking. I resurrected my old friendship with the first Destination Club founder who is now my new partner, enlisted the aid of my brilliant young intern and retained the services of an IP attorney for my new Provisional Patent Pending (yes, my idea is that novel) and a talented webmaster.
Today is Thursday and I was just informed by my partner that our beautiful new site goes "live" on Sunday...only 3 days from now. We have already lined up our own myriad of strategic partners and have assembled an inventory of multi million dollar resort villas to offer to our clients...in one of the most unique payment methods ever created (if I do say so myself).
Let the games begin...once again. :)