My story, Secrets to success

Getting comfy: how to launch a startup

Co-Founder of MadeComfy, Sabrina Bethunin, shares her top tips on finding your niche, serving your users and expanding your startup business

Taking the plunge and launching a startup can be daunting, however great your idea. From finding a gap in the market to sourcing investment, there are numerous obstacles to trip you up before you even get started. Less than a year into her own small business, Sabrina Bethunin shares how she got short-term holiday rental agency MadeComfy off the ground.

Find a gap in the market

Sabrina and her co-founder, Quirin Schwaighofer, created startup business MadeComfy when Quirin wanted to rent out his flat on Sydney Harbour in Australia, but wasn’t sure where to start. They saw a gap in the market to provide a service that allowed homeowners to transform their spaces into holiday accommodation.

Sabrina explains that, while many other companies operate in the holiday rental market, MadeComfy has diversified in order to differentiate itself by catering for any type of home.

“Our properties are quite diverse – from really small apartments in the liberal, culturally diverse Inner West quarter, to big mansions in the urban hub of Mosman,” she says.

But it wasn’t just about what Sabrina offers that made the difference. When she got going was crucial as a well-timed launch helped kick-starting the business.

“We started at the end of last year – summer in Australia – so we started in high holiday season,” she says. “We had a significant number of properties for Christmas and New Year, which allowed us to learn really fast.”

Go the extra mile

“Another way we’re different from other businesses is that we really support our users,” says Sabrina, adding that MadeComfy has a very hands-on approach.

“Our concept is that the homeowner doesn’t have to lift a finger. We manage the whole process, from offering advice to managing photography, styling the property, looking after guests and getting the house ready for when its owner comes back.”

MadeComfy has standards that a property must meet in order to be accepted, but if if a house doesn’t meet these, the company will step in to help homeowners with guidance on how to make a few changes in order to get there.

Sabrina believes this user-focused approach really pays off as the level of attention to detail guarantees a successful service, both for homeowners and holiday goers, which in turn has led to an increase in referrals.

Grow your team

Like many startup business owners, Sabrina has played many roles within the company: “MadeComfy is my baby, and with any business you start by doing pretty much everything yourself.” However, she points out, once your startup is off the ground, it’s essential to put together a good team so that you can focus on more high-level issues. MadeComfy now employs a sales director and works with third party 24/7 support services and experienced freelance photographers with interior design backgrounds.

As MadeComfy shows, launching a successful startup requires finding a niche, creating a tailored service, and building up your company. But Sabrina feels that, in the end, a lot comes down to strength of character:

“The main thing is to believe in the founding team,” she says. “You do face a lot of challenges, and you have to be really strong and believe in what you are doing.”

Sabrina Bethunin is originally from Venezuela and is Co-Founder and Managing Director of MadeComfy, which operates from a Regus office in Sydney’s central business district (CBD).