Preno is a simple SaaS property management system that streamlines the administration side of the business allowing accommodation operators to save time (up to 4 hours per day!). Their current customers globally fall under 150 rooms or units in size.
Preno was created in 2015 by an award-winning hotelier, Amelia, who owned and managed The Spire Hotel in Queenstown for 4 years. During that time, she became increasingly frustrated at the amount of time she spent on admin. Determined and inspired to solve this, she teamed up with Max to build Preno. The team has since expanded in order to provide our customers with the best service, support, and product. Their mission is to make hoteliering uncomplicated and enjoyable for their customers.
We asked Amelia, Prenos’ CEO and co-founder, a few questions to see how everything is going 2 years on from participating in Lightning Lab Auckland.
You went through our Lightning Lab accelerator programme in Auckland in 2015, what have been your biggest achievements since, personal or otherwise?
Lightning Lab was a fantastic experience for us, we learnt so much and we met so many experienced people. As a team we have achieved certain goals in less time than originally expected; gaining customers overseas, bringing on larger hotels/properties as users, having a very high retention of our customers. Personally, I have learnt a lot and continue to grow. I’m really proud of the talented team Max (my co-founder) and I have grown since then.
Tell us, in short, the good, the bad and what inspires you about Preno right now…
The good: We are making progress with sales, we can see good traction and have more data around the value that our customers are getting. Our team is making great progress in automating our onboarding and we have seen the average revenue per user double in the last few months. We have developed the core to Preno product and we are now focused on our additional features, which is exciting. The most exciting being added benefits for guests, coming soon.
The bad: There are always challenges! We are continuing to develop and refine our sales and marketing approach, which has been a bit of a learning curve.
Whats inspiring us: We’re continually inspired by our customers and the vision we have for Preno long term. We really believe we can grow this product into something that will revolutionise the guest and hotelier experience.
What insights do you still use from the Lightning Lab programme?
Lightning Lab taught us to validate our ideas, talk to customers, and how best to pitch to investors. It was an invaluable experience for both Max and I. Being new to Auckland, Lightning Lab also helped us in developing a network of entrepreneurs, influencers, and mentors.
Our biggest takeaway from Lightning Lab was; listen to your customer. Understanding their problems and pain points has been incredibly helpful in developing a high-quality product that our users love.
How do you maintain a sense of well-being/resilience when the pressure is on at work?
I’m still learning how to prioritise health and well-being over work. It’s important because running a startup is a long-distance race. Some days are really hard, but it helps to talk to those around you. Max and I go on founder coffee mornings, where we spend time catching up and checking in with one another. It’s a nice bit of time away from life as startup co-founders, which helps.
Do you have a favourite hotel to stay at?
One of my favourite Preno customers is EcoVilla in Christchurch. A boutique property that is focused on the guest experience and providing an interesting stay for their guests. Their story is interesting, as they started out on Airbnb but have branched out to become more professional. Preno has really helped them expand their business operations.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
A book that has been useful for me at the moment is ‘Extreme you’ by Sarah Robb O’Hagan. I love the authenticity of this book, it’s genuine, fresh, and relevant.
Do you have any top tips for those creating a new business?
If you are starting a new venture, make sure you are passionate about the problem you are solving and the industry you are going into. Know that it will not be easy and you will always face difficulties, but being open to new ideas and asking for help will get you through.
A mentor once told me to “celebrate the small wins” and that has been a very simple but treasured piece of advice. While you work towards bigger goals, it helps to celebrate the smaller achievements along the way…
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