At the end of 2023, OwnerRez finished its 10th full year in business. To celebrate that 10th anniversary, and to realize a longstanding dream by the founders, our entire team went on a company retreat in the Dominican Republic in early December.
What an incredible journey! With more than 7,000 customers, 40+ employees, hundreds of partners, and over a billion dollars in processed bookings, we're taking a moment to look back.
(OwnerRez Team during our company retreat in the Dominican Republic)
The Origin Story (Short Version)
The current "OwnerRez, Inc" was founded 10 years ago in of January 2013 by Paul and Chris.
But years before that, back in 2007, Paul Waldschmidt and his wife, Katy, needed a solution to manage their property management business, Shenandoah Rentals, so Paul got to work! Balancing work, family, and building OwnerRez all at once became quite the feat. There were ups and downs - mostly downs! - and the product treaded water for about 6 years until the end of 2012 when Paul got on the phone with his friend Chris and proposed a new joint venture. The new OwnerRez was incorporated on January 1, 2013.
Before OwnerRez, Paul and Chris were friends who had worked together for many years. Since both were property managers and software engineers, they knew what a property management system needed to succeed.
They spent years working shoulder to shoulder until 2017, when the company started outgrowing its startup phase. Now, we have eight teams of employees, covering 7 time zones and 3 countries, and continue to hire new talent every year. If you'd like to read the longer version of how OwnerRez started, take a look at our story page (a work in progress).
(Paul, Katy, Chris, and Devin, the owners of OwnerRez, in Punta Cana)
Our 2023 Company Retreat
As a virtual company, we have no physical office, so most of us have only seen each other through a tiny rectangle on our computer screens or at industry conferences. While we have the ability to engage virtually, there's something special about meeting in person.
At the end of our tenth year, and after months of planning, the entire OwnerRez team assembled at the Iberostar Grand Bávaro resort in Punta Cana in early December. There, in the resort lobby, we finally got to shake hands, hug each other, talk, drink together, and connect in person for the first time in ten years.
We were joined in Punta Cana by industry trailblazer, Matt Landau, who facilitated our daily team bonding sessions. During these sessions and the trip as a whole, our team was able to connect and express their personal and professional goals. This time was invaluable and opened up conversations that would have never happened via our typical virtual team meetings.
What a week! There was a wonderful Welcome Cocktail Party, group dinners, excursions around the island, nightlife, and more.
We created a dedicated 2023 Company Retreat page, so take a look to see the details and photos of the trip.
Looking back, it would be difficult to talk about OwnerRez's journey without talking about our principles.
A company's principles are like a compass guiding its decision-making and actions. Principles reflect the values and beliefs of the organization and serve as a foundation for how employees interact with customers, partners, and each other.
Over the years, we have worked hard to define clear and well-defined principles, so that we can maintain consistency in our behavior, build trust with our users, and stay focused on our goals. This has shaped the culture of OwnerRez, creating a sense of purpose and identity that unites our team members.
Below are some of the principles we live by and consistently take into account when making decisions:
We call ourselves a “People First” company (a term coined by Michel Falcon based on ideas from Harvard Business Review), which means, among other things, that we have honest, transparent conversations with our team and customers. We believe in happiness more than a "growth at all costs" environment. As part of this culture, we are committed to being financially responsible. It’s hard to care about your team when you’re spending money frivolously or taking on large amounts of debt, so we don’t do that.
The root cause of OwnerRez’s success is our commitment to “create happiness.” Creating happiness takes humility and being willing to adapt and evolve constantly. It requires understanding how your team really operates and how your customers really interact with your system, which means you have to measure and understand the details. You have to be skeptical of yourself and your biases. Paul Waldschmidt wrote an article for VRMA called "OwnerRez and the Power of Happiness," which is a short but excellent summary of this principle.
As you may know, we take pride in providing frequent updates to our platform. In fact, OwnerRez releases more updates in a single month than some of our competitors release during a whole year! Even if they're small, we attempt to release updates every week of the year. Continuous improvement leads to happiness.
Speed Is A Feature
We pride ourselves on our engineering strength and commitment to improving good features. Users can "sense speed" in software. Back in the day, Google beat Yahoo because it was fast and it "just worked". That sense of power and speed is a feature of OwnerRez, and we take steps every day to measure and watch how fast our features perform and fix where they slow down. Measuring speed forces you to improve constantly.
The Customer Owns The Data
We believe your data is your data. This is why we have designed OwnerRez to allow you to export your data easily in case you need it outside of OwnerRez. Many other property management platforms block your data or only allow you to access small parts of it. While we may not have an export button or API for accessing every last piece of data in your account, our philosophy is that you should have access to it (or at least the important parts) so that you can take it with you when you go. And as we grow and build, we are committed to continuing that tradition. By the way, this also means we don't sell or share your data with partners!
One Touch Solves
It can take a day or two (or 4 or 5 😞) to respond to every ticket and phone call that comes in. While we work on improving our response times - and believe me, we are working on that night and day - we make sure that every response is as warm, relevant, and complete as possible. The only thing worse than not getting a response is getting one that is incomplete or robotic. While we can't control how much support traffic we get, as a team, we can always make sure to treat each sender with respect and solve as much as we can in the first touch. "One Touch Solve" reminds us that we only want to see each support case once. The more times the support case returns, the more we miss that goal.
If you're curious, our other principles are: Perseverance, Manager of One, Perfect Enemy, Be Levelheaded, and Own Your Mistakes.
We won't go through the meaning of all of them, here and now, but each one of these principles means something important to our team.
Principles matter and are integral in the story of how OwnerRez grew and prospered over the last 3,650 days.
The Future of OwnerRez
At OwnerRez, we're always looking to the future and thinking about how we can continue to improve our platform and services to best serve our customers. We're committed to being the best PMS on the market for years to come, and that means constantly improving our support and in-app features.
We're excited about the upcoming features we plan to release in 2024 and beyond, and we'll continue to listen to feedback from our customers to ensure we're meeting your needs. We're dedicated to providing the most user-friendly, efficient, and reliable vacation rental software available, and we're looking forward to continuing to grow and evolve alongside our customers. You may have seen our holiday newsletter, but in case you missed it, check your inbox! In that newsletter, we discussed the highlights from 2023 and some of the features we plan to release in 2024.
Here’s to another ten years of success! 🥂