Founded in 2010 Bungalo is an Icelandic based online marketplace for cottage rentals. The company focuses on providing cottages through local families who can help travelers explore the area and culture. Last year the company expanded to launch in the Canadian market as well. CEO Haukur Gudjonsson leads a team of seven staff.
A solution to an experienced need
The idea was born the summer of 2009 when Haukur Gudjonsson had a few days off and decided to rent himself a cottage. He quickly realized that this was easier said than done however. After having spent a whole day surfing the internet, looking through ads and calling friends and family, he realized there was no easy way to find and book a cottage in Iceland.
“The idea really came from annoyance with how difficult it was. I decided to do something about it instead of just complaining. A few months later the first version of the website was up and running, and after two years of hard work we finally started to see real responses and growth in the business”
With Bungalo being his fifth startup Haukur Gudjonsson has great experience within the field.
“I have over 10 years experience in running a business. Besides this I have taught and mentored in the startup scene both in Iceland and internationally,” he explains
The promise of a sincere local experience
By facilitating private rental Bungalo promises more than just accommodation. The cottages are owned by local families and this brings a unique personal and friendly feeling to the accommodation. Bungalo makes it easier for travelers to meet the locals and experience the true culture of the area. Haukur Gudjonsson explains
“Bungalo is more than just accommodation. We are giving travelers a unique experience. Most of the travelers are international and they really desire experiencing this local feeling”
Great advantage for both owners and travelers
For travelers Bungalo means the possibility to browse and find unique properties that gives them an experience they would not be able to find anywhere else. But the cottage owners also experience valuable benefits using the service.
“It is very important to have your cottage listed on several websites. However, it is complicated and time consuming to continuously have to update your ad multiple places. Therefore, we have made partnerships with e.g. Tripadvisor. So when owners list their cottage with Bungalo or update a current listing, the properties are automatically listed and updated on all of Bungalo’s partnership websites”
Besides focusing on making it as easy as possible Bungalo is working on a proprietary algorithm to help maximize owners revenue. Generally Haukur explains, that they are working closely with the owners in order to fully understand their needs.
The focus on simplicity also shines through in the business model. Instead of demanding sign up fees or annual fees, Bungalo takes a 15% commission of all bookings going through the system.
“Owners never have to take any risk by trying out our product as there is no upfront or annual fee. We only get paid when they get paid”
All in all Bungalo means easy overview and unique advantages for both the traveler and the cottage owners.
The service has proven to be a great success in both Iceland and Canada, and as soon as the new department in Canada becomes sustainable Bungalo is planning on expanding to other Nordic countries.
“The feedback from Canada is really good. It was quite a challenge to do this expansion, as the Canadian market is exactly a 100 times bigger than Iceland. As the Canadian market starts being sustainable we plan on expanding to Norway, Sweden and Finland,” Haukur Gudjonsson concludes