Here's how a startup aims to market ‘kezhans’ digitally

This company has built SaaS digital marketing systems for boutique hotels.

Funding your dream startup is not as easy as it seems. In fact, according to Perkins Ho and Ethan Wang, founders of Tavernlabs, Perkins even put all his money into starting the business. An electrical engineer by training, Perkins then sought help from his good friend Leonardo Wong, an experienced programmer, to help build the system. Eventually, Tavernlabs started off with only one programmer and had its beta launch to its first clients in less than 9 months. In less than a year, this company, which was inspired by the founders’ love of travelling, now has USD200,000 total funding at hand with the owner’s funds and Angel Investors such as Dominic Chan of Dark Horse Investment.

Tavernlabs has built a SaaS digital marketing system for boutique hotels (‘kezhans’) in China to enable their self marketing and direct-booking capabilities. The company’s flagship product is called Yunnke, and allows boutique hotels to cultivate their own clients on the cloud.

Perkins explains that, due to a lack of resources, about 98% of kezhans don’t have an online presence. These boutique hotels rely heavily on word-of-mouth and OTAs to sell rooms. Without brand differentiation in OTAs, they cannot compete with large hotels.

With Yunnke, these boutique hotels can now build a professional hotel website in 30 minutes and take commission-free direct bookings using the platform’s booking engine. Through Yunnke, they can also build hotel-specific features such as room features, a map showing nearby restaurants and points of interest, promotions modules and multilingual support. They are also able to control their own pricing, take reservations online, and be more proactive with promotions during the non-peak season.

According to Perkins, Tavernlabs aims to be the first company in China and Taiwan to run DIY commission-free direct sales via official hotel homepages. He explains that the Tavernlabs system will allow hotel clients to compete not just via traditional websites, but also in Weixin and Facebook.

After winning the Cocoon competitions for startups in January, Tavernlabs is focusing on perfecting their system and preparing to put more effort into sales and marketing in 2015, with a goal of reaching 500 clients.



Company Name: Tavernlabs (trading as Yunnke in China)
Founders: Perkins Ho and Ethan Wang
Website: www.yunnke.com
Total funding at hand: USD 200,000
Source of funding: Internal funding and Angel Investors 
Major investors: Dominic Chan of Dark Horse Investment 
Start of Operation: Company started in April 2014 

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