Startup Aims To Transform Hotel Industry

By Michael Hinkelman Philadelphia Daily News.

PHILADELPHIA

Adria Bagdonavicius, 26, of Philadelphia, is co-founder and CEO of PurpleCloud Technologies. Founded in 2011, it has developed a software platform that helps hotels enhance the productivity of their workforces. The technology streams real-time information to hotel staff and analyzes data to assist management in strategic decision-making.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea?

A: I worked at the Philadelphia Airport Marriott as part of my co-op at Drexel University and noticed that they used outdated software, and staff was running around with two-way radios and paper reports. Whenever I worked in a different department, I found they blamed others for dropping the ball on guest requests.

Q: The startup money?

A: I got $50,000 from friends and family, and we did a pilot at the Rittenhouse Hotel (a high-end hotel in Philadelphia). Two angel investors from Philadelphia and one from Atlanta later gave us an additional $100,000.

Q: What's the biz do?

A: We have a software-as-a-service platform that can run on a smartphone, tablet or PC. It streams real-time data to all hotel staff. We had the first two-way integration in the U.S. with the largest hotel-property-management-systems company, MICROS. We pull room status and guest information and send it to everyone who needs it. Instead of knocking on doors, a housekeeper can see in real time when somebody has checked out, clean a room and update the status in the computer system so supervisors know it's ready for inspection.

Q: The biz model?

A: We charge a licensing fee of about $5 per room per month, but we do volume discounts for larger hotels.

Q: The value prop?

A: We take all the chatter and movement on our platform and do data analytics for clients. We can tell how often a hotel runs out of washcloths. Should they rethink their relationship with their supplier? Maybe we notice a lot of lightbulbs are out and we suggest they buy different bulbs because it will save time, money, energy costs. In our pilot, we identified more than $90,000 in cost savings, from increased efficiency to productivity.

Q: Your customers?

A: Rittenhouse Hotel, which is owned by Hersha Hospitality Management, became our first customer. They subsequently gave us other hotels to work with, including the Hyatt House in White Plains, N.Y., and we're installing our system at the Capitol Hill Hotel, in Washington, D.C.

Q: Biggest challenge?

A: The sales cycle is long, especially integration with property-management systems. It's getting in front of the right people and getting them to say yes.

Q: How big a biz?

A: Two co-founders: myself and my chief technology officer, who developed our programming software. We also have a full-time head of business development, three Drexel interns and five part-time contractors who analyze data.

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