Deepti Patankar

Deepti Patankar is the Co-Founder and COO of Hostmaker, the award-winning home rental management company.

Since founding the company in 2014 with her husband Nakul, Deepti has been instrumental in the company’s growth, taking it from its London roots to being present in nine cities across Europe.

Before starting Hostmaker, Deepti worked at Linklaters as a banking lawyer after winning a training contract from her university in Bangalore. Leaving this position to found a travel & hospitality start-up was a leap of faith but Deepti believed in Nakul’s clear vision for Hostmaker. Since then, this legal background has come in handy with Deepti successfully negotiating the five rounds of funding for Hostmaker, helping the company raise $29.3 million – making Hostmaker one of the most well-funded start-ups in Europe. As a result, Deepti was featured in the Management Today ’35 under 35′ list in 2018.

Hostmaker is the leading home rental management company born with the vision to unlock the potential of every home. Hostmaker offers an end-to-end management service infused with hospitality expertise, smart algorithmic pricing technology and thoughtful interior design.

Founded by entrepreneur Nakul Sharma in 2014, Hostmaker has expanded its operations to nine international destinations to date: London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Cannes, Florence and Bangkok, managing over 2,000 uniquely curated homes across these markets. This rapid growth placed Hostmaker at no.3 in the Deloitte UK Tech Fast 50 Awards 2018.

Working with partners including Airbnb, BNP Paribas and Zoopla, Hostmaker has hosted more than 275,000 guests since 2014 and has generated earnings of over £60 million for homeowners to date.
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Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m Deepti Patankar and I am the Co-Founder and COO of home rental management company, Hostmaker. My background lies in banking law and I previously worked as a lawyer at Linklaters, after winning a training contract from my university in Bangalore. In 2014 I quit my job and co-founded Hostmaker with my husband, Nakul. We provide an end-to-end property management service to hosts and landlords, including designing interiors, offering smart algorithmic pricing and a personal service. Since starting the company five years ago we have grown Hostmaker into a 200+ employee, $29m-backed business operating in nine cities across the globe, including London, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon and Bangkok.

At the moment, we are working on a new tech offering called Hostmaker Essential. This will offer hosts all over the world the support they need to list their home, design it and get the pricing spot on with our specialised algorithms. We are experts when it comes to the tech side of things, so this allows hosts to meet, greet and communicate with guests themselves, but leave all the tricky tech down to us in order to maximise their rental yield.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. When I was younger, I meticulously planned my career; every internship or work experience role that I took on contributed in some way to my goal of being a corporate lawyer. What was unplanned was the jump into founding a start-up. Years ago, I would never have guessed I would end up here, yet here I am! My background as a lawyer offered me an amazing basis of learning and prepared me for the challenge. Today, working for a start-up, it isn’t easy for me to plan ahead when it comes to my career – each day is different, and I am constantly faced with new challenges and learnings which is really refreshing.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

As you can probably imagine, when I first moved to the UK from India, I was experiencing a huge cultural difference. Everything was so new to me and at first, I really struggled to adapt. My boss at the time told me that I wasn’t good enough which was difficult to hear, but rather than letting it beat me, I persisted, continued to work hard and had faith that I would improve. It was this experience which really shaped me as a business leader; I realised how important it is to take criticism in a positive way. Now I always seek feedback and use it to take a constructive look at myself. You should never let your own ego stand in the way of improving yourself.

When we first set up Hostmaker, I also had the to overcome the challenge of managing other people. I had never done this before, and I had to learn how to manage a range of people of different ages, experience and abilities. This was a learning curve for me, tweaking my style to suit different characters whilst also learning the importance of listening to your employees and nurturing them.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Bringing Hostmaker’s operation to nine cities is a huge career highlight for me. We started our business journey working out of our apartment five years ago and now we have over 500 employees, a $29m-backed business, over £100m in revenue and are seeing 400% YOY growth.  It is crazy to see how quickly the business has grown in what feels like such a short period of time; it is something I am immensely proud of.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I never give up. If there is something I want to achieve, I will look for a every possible solution until I succeed. When it comes to running a business, lots is down to trial and error, so it is important that you learn from your mistakes. Sacrifice comes hand in hand with success, but everything is achievable if you are hungry for it and work hard enough.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

If you want to excel in any career you have to go the extra mile. Excellence doesn’t come from doing routine work, so you have to set yourself apart from the rest which often takes time – particularly at the start of your career when you are trying to prove yourself; this is when you need the most dedication. Ensure you are patient and always remain optimistic that you will get the answer or outcome that you are looking for.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

At Hostmaker we encourage gender diversity; 50 per cent of our work force is female, and our leadership team is split down the middle with half women, half men. I do feel that in some cases women don’t have the confidence to ask for more responsibility at work, which can sometimes be down to the worry of failure. We need to understand that we are going to make mistakes, and this is fine; it’ll all help on the journey to success.

From an industry perspective, it is also important that women have successful role models that they can look up to in order to overcome these barriers. Having more women in positions of power will help set a standard, break down the mindset that power is only associated with men, and in turn, encourage more women to believe in themselves.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

We need to address the psychological issues regarding women in the workplace; sometimes these are deep rooted, however I believe attitudes will change in time. Mentor programmes can be very effective; it is crucial that both men and women are coaching the next generation, encouraging them to never give up. As the Co-Founder of Hostmaker, I see it as my responsibility to instil a sense of confidence in my employees. We have regular catch ups where we discuss goals, I make an effort to tell them that I believe in them and empower them to expect more of themselves – the sky really is the limit.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If I could change one thing it would be removing the stereotype that women aren’t suited to math or science. At schools, girls tend to perform better than boys and thrive at subjects such as finance, math and science, so it is a shame that this drops off later in life, with less women taking up a tech career path. If we could change the mentality that women don’t thrive in science and math disciplines, we would be looking at a lot more diverse industry.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

I love the podcast Master of Skills. It is start-up specific and offers advice from some inspiring women Founders. I would also recommend Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.