How I Went From Property Manager To Starting An $18K/Month 420-Friendly Airbnb

Published: November 29th, 2022
Deontae Rodney Mack
Founder, Vibesbnb
$18K
revenue/mo
3
Founders
1
Employees
Vibesbnb
from Miami, FL, USA
started November 2019
$18,000
revenue/mo
3
Founders
1
Employees
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‘Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello Starter Story! I am the founding partner; Deontae Mack who created the company Vibesbnb which is a cannabis-friendly experience and lodging service similar to Airbnb but designed to find guests safe and accessible lodging in any recreational or medical state to consume or vaporize their favorite edible and choice of cannabis. You can select, place orders, and book locations in states available on vibesbnb.com

We assure our customers that their cannabis consumption will not cause extra smoking fines or cancellations related to the booking as we encourage communication between host and guest about cannabis culture and social vibes

Vibesbnb has handled over 5,000 reservations related to cannabis tourism and our monthly booking revenue is $13,000 to $18,000 with 160 properties on our marketplace.

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

After graduating from FIU in 2016, and some successful months driving for Uber and Lyft, I and my wife were working non-stop. We decided to rent for extra money our extra bedroom in our 2/2 that was relatively close to downtown Hollywood. I noticed crappy occupancy for the first few months until I started marketing 420-friendly hospitality in the description.

Since we lived with our guests, I noticed many bookings complaining about the service on Airbnb when it pertained to cannabis-friendly accessibility.

I thought to myself how can I solve this problem as it was just simply a lack of communication between the host and guest.

Cannabis has always been a niche community but no platform had ever considered itself a cannabis platform so I thought it was a good opportunity for growth if we focused on cannabis users and solving problems for the tourist community who consume and need to find accessible homes. I recruited my best friend and told him of my journey about how I think the world is opening up to cannabis hospitality like Colorado did in 2012 and we could build a killer company.

My instinct was right and our passion was then cemented as the State of Florida 2016 passed Amendment 2 which prescribed medical marijuana to patients I thought to myself “Where do you go to book a 420-friendly reservation? I didn't think of an answer and it was not Airbnb or Google. The only legal place you could consume according to the state law was inside a private residence.

Airbnb has no policy on cannabis and I noticed many Airbnb hosts have problems with cannabis users I thought creating a “Joint Community” standard could attract cannabis users to my listings and get numbers to profitable margins

  • 420 friendly
  • Tobacco outside
  • Designated smoking areas
  • Communication
  • Unique culture

After seeing initial numbers of 90%+ occupancy during the first 3 months. I thought “wow, this could work”.

So I began my career as a Vibesbnb Entrepreneur Host from that moment on and would grow my short-term renting business to 6 figures over 3 years by investing in one property and then saving the extra seasonal money to invest in several additional properties.

Along the way, I met my investor who owned a non-profit organization called Empowering People Foundation. He found me at the end of those 3 years and was excited about my growth and work ethic toward helping others. He shared his personal experience that none of his friends used cannabis but he saw the market long-term beginning to shift and I was able to convince him to sponsor Vibesbnb

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Our challenge was building a two-sided marketplace design our first version we called 420bnb, we made a bunch of mistakes the first round through. We realized pretty quickly that hiring a software engineer was the best direction and we simply needed to work on client building so we worked backward.

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We surveyed 1,500 people and asked if people wanted cannabis lounges, bud delivery, and 420-friendly experiences in different cities and began building in that direction. We were shocked by the surveys. People wanted all kinds of experiences so we began building an all-in-one marketplace for cannabis experience with a focus on cannabis-friendly lodging.

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We knew communication is important when it comes to booking accommodations so we knew allowing the discussion of your favorite strain was critical to the experience. Most other platforms and hotels do not focus on the communication aspect of the cannabis experience because it is so illegal so we decided to be that platform that eliminates smoking fines, cancellations, and discourages police activity centered around the possession of cannabis, and recommends a framework of policy to host and guest.

Design Dashboard + Website Design (2019)

Progressive web application:

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Website design:

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Our problem with host acquisition is that Airbnb has increased the standard.

Current and previous super hosts on Airbnb agreed to host our users with a degree of non-judgment. Only if we provided basic reservation info, a calendar, or a channel manager sync option could protect them against damages from guests and do the guest screening.

We looked at these requirements of the Airbnb community, created a PRD document for our tech team to produce core features because our first version lacked the technical capability and scaling potential, and image processing ability.

Website (2021)

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Mobile Apps (2021)

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Prototype workflow + Flowchart

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Describe the process of launching the business.

Our Hollywood launch was one of many successful launches. The Airbnb Hosts of South Florida throws meet-ups in Miami and Fort Lauderdale for the successful super hosts on Airbnb. We attend these meetings and onboard a few hosts each meet up and our Hollywood meet-up was our most successful “Launch” with over 20 super hosts joining our mission.

Learning about compliance and Insurance for your properties was a hot topic with Airbnb super hosts. We helped educate many different hosts about the compliance standards for short-term renting hosts across South Florida and had Nadine Robinson as a speaker to talk about her experience as a Hollywood, Florida compliance officer to the group members.

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Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain a host?

Vibesbnb Education Program

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Since our launch, Mack University has continued to educate individual hosts on responsible hosting, our company progress, referral programs, and word-of-mouth efforts that increase our value in the marketplace and provide a resource to the rental community to learn about cannabis hospitality.

Our joint community is a representation of all walks of life that come together to learn and educate each other about the best practices in the short-term rental game for unique investments and its vibe.

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Host Property Insurance** **

Providing liability and property insurance helped increase our value and acquisition of hosts by 2x each month as more hosts were reaching out to us about our company and asking for more information.

Our biggest advantage was protecting our hosts’ investments by reducing our damage claim process from 2 weeks to 48 hours which helped us greatly acquire new leads.

Our biggest loss of conversion was due to the fact of not having an insurance policy program to offer hosts as they want an integrated system that offers the same benefits.

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Hosting On Airbnb

I continue to have my personal properties as Airbnb investments and we leverage the Vibesbnb platform to offer discounts and affordable travel as our repeatable sales model. We found that users will commit to our platform and make a reservation when our hosts adjust or include the following in their listing;

  1. Designated smoking Area (420 Friendly)

  2. Affordable Price and dispensary location

  3. Location

  4. Payment Plans

  5. Wishlist feature

  6. Cash App Payment

  7. Experience platform

  8. Bud Delivery

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You can 2-4x your revenue Airbnb listing with our course.

We advertise our listings on Airbnb to leverage their advertising platform and received our first mobile app booking on 4/20/2020

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Advertising online for cannabis lodging was strategic through influencer media, and Airbnb, and as a result, we saw an increase in quarterly opportunities to list host properties and grow our social media reach from host partners.

Our main advertisements were these videos we created for the company

Our travel advertisement video

Our CEO interview at a Cannabis Conference

We saw our Stripe account start to reflect bookings and we were pretty ecstatic to see Consistency from our investments but also organic bookings.

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Our Idea is to market the name for the younger demographic would be 420bnb for guest experience and Vibesbnb for Host Acquisition. Host acquisition would be a lengthy part of the business but we know more public exposure will bring users by the thousands and the individual host will sell the experience without question. Individuals will be able to list on vibesbnb.com as a passive income source.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Experiences

We recently acquired some major partners and looking to expand our reach in 2023 by releasing what is to be the first-of-its-kind marijuana hospitality application that can support domestic travel with GDS-certified technology.

We’re releasing to the public in 2023 and a newer version of our application will feature UI upgrades and increased support for host partners.

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We partnered with some Service experiences that bring local traffic and cool events for Vibesbnb / Airbnb guests to enjoy as a part of the Joint Community.

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Later that year we partnered with Weedsies to offer cannabis delivery directly to your Airbnb or Vibesbnb and street delivery in Miami. The latest cannabis brands are at your fingertips all in one marketplace.

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Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Planning is everything and you have to step foot in your industry to grow. You have to network and increase your knowledge about your particular field to validate your understanding and strengthen your understanding. Then can you move forward with like-minded individuals?

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Benzinga Cannabis Conference

Meeting Kim Rivers and having her support from Trulieve with their marketing tips and resources as the leading cannabis brand worldwide.

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The Parent Company

Troy Datcher CEO of The Parent Company represented a major milestone in our development because it was the first time we were able to foster development in my idol’s company and become even more motivated to grind on the business.

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Troy in his speech argued brand authenticity and delivering on your core values as building blocks for brand development. He continues to give us knowledge while we train to meet the requirements of The Parent Company's social equity venture.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Quodouacademy.com from Alexander Robinson was the most influential course when it came to developing the tools for success. His Course on business credit was able to help me build business revenue to operate under.

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Empowering People Foundation from Kin Broden focuses on pillars involving self-development, wealth creation, and financial literacy.

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Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Stubborn relentlessness about your vision but being flexible enough on the details because of preconceptions that were incorrect beforehand. Entrepreneurship is about identifying opportunities and taking risks to turn them into reality. It requires creativity, innovation, and determination. Entrepreneurship is the engine that drives economic growth and offers vast opportunities for personal and professional development.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We’re always looking to expand the team

  • Venture Capitalist Advisor
  • Technical Solution Analyst
  • Product Manager
  • Campaign Manager
  • Chief Marketing Officer

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!