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The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Rena Pacheco-Theard of Boutiq
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Rena Pacheco-Theard, co- founder and CEO of Boutiq, a real estate investment engine that optimizes rental yields for home owners and provides a network of luxury vacation rentals for travelers.
Vacation travel is back! (Although in the case of vacation rentals, it may never have stopped.) Travel demand across the board is finally back to levels before Covid and with the rise of remote working, vacation rental properties are being booked for longer stays. The demand also continues to grow for "low season" months. It’s not easy to find an accommodation that you trust will have the amenities you need and the treatment you deserve, but Boutiq is your go-to brand, as they offer a network of stunning luxury rental properties inspired by the world’s best boutique hotels. At the same time, they use machine learning based pricing and data science to identify where to buy the best properties for vacation rentals.
Boutiq started as a side hustle for married co-founders Rena Pacheco-Theard and Dan Driscoll, who rented out their home to make a little extra income. It ended up being profitable, fun, and they loved being a part of the guest experience. They started getting requests for help, so Boutiq really wasn't an idea in search of a market, rather a solution the market demanded. Rena is a serial entrepreneur with a background in public policy and consulting. She cares deeply about social impact and how people are treated, which is being carried over to the Boutiq experience.
Don’t just book any house, book a Boutiq!
What is Boutiq’s “North Star”?
The North Star is the guest experience because if you focus on making the guests happy, then everything else falls into place. Guests want to know that they can count on booking a Boutiq property wherever they want to travel with their friends and family, and that they can expect all the amenities for traveling with kids and working remotely. There's going to be a pack n’play, a highchair, high-quality internet, and then they can really just focus on making memories with their loved ones. We’re very attentive to our guests and address any issues that arise. We believe the best guest experience creates the best investor returns.
How does Boutiq inspire “customer love”?
Our rentals are really well thought-out and that really inspires customer love from the traveler. They’re fully equipped and we’ve been able to deliver those 4.9+ reviews with comments like, “impeccable amenities.” I’m a mom with two kids, so I understand the little things that make life easier. Kids stain their clothes, so something as simple as having a stain remover in addition to laundry detergent is a minor detail that enhances the guest’s experience.
On the investor side, I really think it’s the art and science approach. We have the technology, but we also have this design aesthetic and the quality standards. We're able to marry those two in a way that’s pretty unique in this space. We also emphasize unit economics and want to be profitable as we scale. These are things that really resonate with investors.
Where is Boutiq looking to expand in the next few years?
We plan to expand our portfolio of larger, single-family homes for group and family rentals all across the US. We want to give travelers great vacation memories, so we aim for non-urban, leisure destinations- places that are by a lake, beach, ski mountain, etc. Our goal is to build Boutiq into a national brand for travelers, similar to trusted hotel brands, but for vacation rentals. I would love if in five years, when you go to book your vacation rental you say, “Let’s book a Boutiq.”
How has your background in policy helped shape Boutiq?
It truly informs what we're doing because when you're in this type of industry, where it's homes, we want to make sure that we're not eliminating affordable housing from those who need it. What we’re doing is very specific and intentional. Our properties are vacation homes that tend to be larger, expensive properties that aren’t taking away from folks that need to live in the community. Instead, we like the idea that we can actually be super additive by paying people well in the different service sectors that are required to maintain a property. It’s really important for me to track where policy is today, as well as where it’s moving, and to only be operating in those markets where it's a well established operating environment. We want to support the local municipalities and be a good neighbor. I feel very fortunate that I'm able to create a company with eyes wide open as to the importance of these issues and the importance to tread carefully and to be very respectful.
Do you have any favorite podcasts?
There are two podcasts that I really like. One is How I Built This with Guy Raz, which has been mentioned before. The other is Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. There's so much about changing your mindset regarding how things are reported and how you investigate things. There’s a ton of information in there that can be useful from an entrepreneurial perspective, even if it's not explicitly an entrepreneurship podcast.