Business trips can inspire entrepreneurs to create new lodging options. William Lucas was inspired to start Mint House based on his choices in finding a place to stay for work. Lucas, the company’s founder and CEO, opted to stay in hotels as opposed to a popular home-sharing service because he didn’t want to gamble with the uncertainty of the experience.
With Mint House, Lucas aims to deliver a “trusted, secure, hotel-like experience in terms of usability and trust and reliability” that is built on a suite of amenities powered by technology. At the same time, he realized there was a way to rethink the hotel model – specifically, using digital technology to handle processes like check-in, leading to a better experience. (Overall, he said Mint House seeks to combine the best elements of Airbnb and hotels, while leaving the not-so-good elements behind.)
The company has partnerships with corporations and companies in the markets in which it operates. Consumers can also book online or via the mobile app. To facilitate the mobile experience, travelers get a note to download the app as part of their confirmation emails. The app comes with a geofence that triggers information on how to get to the property and, ultimately, how to access the building and the room with keyless entry. Built-in messaging allows travelers to communicate without picking up the phone.
Lucas also noted that travelers can check in to their destinations anytime after they have booked. For example, they can check in during their plane or Uber rides, or even a day or week before. The company has staff on the ground in each market, but Lucas said that 99 percent of questions can be answered digitally. Mint House accepts credit card payments.
Most of the company’s properties are class-A buildings, often high-rises with full gyms that Lucas said are bigger and better than at an average hotel. He estimates that 70 percent have pools as well. The units also have kitchens and living rooms. Overall, he said, they have “all of the physical amenities that you would find at a traditional four-star hotel,” offering a place where travelers can entertain business colleagues. Lucas added that “we control the entire experience” – from the keyless entry locks to the thermostat. The company also has a procurement and design team that furnishes every room.
As Mint House scales, it will aim to target larger companies and to forge some national partnerships. The company also would like to work with the real estate community in many ways. However, Lucas said, it is primarily looking to take between 20 and 200 units from multi-family owners. The company can come in just when buildings are being leased and take a number of floors, or the whole building. In other cases, it can arrive when the building has an 85 to 95 percent occupancy and make the building 100 percent occupied. It can also open up the rooms as guest suites to the rest of the tenants in the building, so full-time residents gain value as well.
Mint House is currently in markets including Denver, Nashville, Miami, Detroit and Indianapolis, and is coming soon to Minneapolis and San Diego. The company recently raised $15 million in a Series A round, which it plans to use to open new buildings around the country, build out its team and further invest in its technology. As entrepreneurs rethink the way corporate employees stay away from home, Lucas hopes the company will become part of the regular vocabulary of business travelers.