The alltherooms co-founders recently had the pleasure of sharing some insight on entrepreneurship and discussed how their Columbia education shaped their careers. Read on to find out what advice they had to share:
Pack your bags! Co-founders Joseph DiTomaso ’03 and William Beckler ’00 (Law) have joined forces to save you time and money by combining absolutely every available room on the planet into one well designed and incredibility fast search engine.
What problem or issue does your company seek to address?
Existing hotel-focused meta-search engines, such as Kayak and Trivago, never present travelers with all the rooms available in a given destination, forcing the consumer to visit dozens of different sites.
We save the customer time and money by combining absolutely every room on the planet into one well designed and incredibly fast search engine.
What’s a recent big milestone for your company? Describe your company’s impact so far.
Well, as of a few weeks ago we became the world’s largest accommodation search engine, with over 3.1 million accommodations. This includes everything from your favorite 5-star hotel in Vegas, to your bed and breakfast in Rhinebeck, New York, to your house boat in Rincon, Puerto Rico.
This is significant as we are now larger than any other accommodation search engine or online travel agency (OTA) on the planet. We now have more inventory than Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, Kayak, Trivago and Vrbo combined.
How has your Columbia MBA education helped you as an entrepreneur?
I would say that having an MBA – specifically a Columbia MBA – has been vital to our success as entrepreneurs.
There are challenges which always materialize. I call them “inflection points.” These are situations, or “opportunities,” where something has changed or shifted with your business model. The immediate reaction is to lose your head which will most likely result in a poor management choice. The great thing about a Columbia MBA is that it helped me fall back on past class experiences.
For example, when we run into a bottleneck issue with regards to product integration, I look back to my Operations Management class. When we start discussing marketing channels and product placement, I defer back to the basic marketing principals I learned.
Having a Columbia MBA has provided me with an invaluable knowledge base and resources for my business.
What do you find most rewarding about being an entrepreneur? What’s most challenging?
Starting a company is easy; it’s the middle and end parts that are hard. The most rewarding experience about being an entrepreneur is that you are your own boss – you set the pace, tone and corporate culture of your company. The success of your venture begins and ends with you and your desire for success.
The most challenging part is that every day is different – you have no idea what curve balls are about to be thrown your way. You need to be flexible, creative and nimble in order to manage the adversity and challenges that will most certainly come your way.
What advice would you give to a graduating Columbia student with entrepreneurial aspirations?
Be sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
I talk to a lot of students interested in being an entrepreneur – individuals who are anxious to start their own company. My advice is to really understand why it is that you want to be entrepreneur and what is it that truly motivates you. It is always fun and exciting when you start a company; everything is fresh, new, and kind of smells like a new car that just rolled off the factory floor. But you need to be careful as the excitement and shine quickly wears off. You need to be sure you are as motivated and excited about your venture in the down times (when things might not be so great) as you are during the up times.
My other piece of advice would be to trust your instincts and don’t get in your own way. Sometimes we are scared of the prospects of failure, or even afraid of the possibility of our own success. Don’t be. Learn to trust your instincts; your first impression and first thoughts are usually the right ones.
This post originally appeared on the Columbia Business School website. View it here.