Necessity is the mother of invention: How a short term rental hosting nightmare led to NoiseAware

admin 05/10/2016

Now, this is a story all about how

My life got flipped-turned upside down

And I'd like to take a minute

Just sit right there

I'll tell you how I became the cofounder of NoiseAware!

About a year ago, I joined the ranks of the top 5% of Airbnb Superhosts and was steadily building a portfolio of short term rental investment properties. Then disaster struck -- in the form of a snail mail letter in my mailbox! The letter was a cease and desist from my Home Owners Association informing me of the raging party thrown by my Airbnb guests two days prior. Apparently, every one of my neighbors, my building’s lawyers and even the police department knew about my guest’s crazy party before I did.

Just like that, my short term rental hosting dream had become a total nightmare. One party resulted in a life changing moment for me and unfortunately led to distressed sale of my investment for a loss of over $35,000.

I’m not the only one who has experienced this type of nightmare. Hosts and vacation rental managers around the world face the same risk of finding out about noise complaints far too late to proactively respond. Every week, we find a new headline story proves that hosts’ worst fears can quickly turn into a reality. I was not surprised when I saw the headline about Johnny Manziel throwing a wild two day party at an LA rental home. He caused over $32,000 worth of damage and drove neighbors to call the police due to noise disturbances (the manager of that vacation rental is now a NoiseAware customer).

Noise complaints occur approximately 1 out every 1000 nights booked. With Airbnb hosts renting over 17,000,000 nights last summer, the number of "party house" disaster headlines has steadily proliferated since I experienced my own nightmare a year ago.

Even though my guest's party was costly and embarrassing, I was not willing to give up on my Airbnb dreams. To protect my business I knew I needed a solution that would protect both me and my neighbors. I searched exhaustively for a tool that could measure and monitor noise levels at my Airbnbs. Nothing. The only available options were either too invasive (like wifi cameras and baby monitors) or lacked smart notification features that would alert me on a need-to-know basis.

What I really needed was something that would work like a smoke detector -- but for noise. Then, serendipity happened.

One morning while working out of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, I heard my future cofounder, Andrew Schulz, announce that he would be teaching a DIY smart home technology class. "I have a background in radar systems and can teach anyone how to build custom sensors for your home," he said. I didn't want to take the class but I did want Andrew's help!

Within a day, we began designing the solution for my short-term rental noise issue. The solution needed to, first and foremost, protect my guests privacy. Secondly, it needed to be smart enough to distinguish prolonged, noise disturbances from loud sounds that might trigger false alarms. Lastly, it needed to be able to notify me instantly when an authentic noise disturbance (see: party or loud event during quiet hours) was detected.

A few weeks later, Andrew had hooked up the first version of what would eventually become our NoiseAware noise monitoring service. And, low and behold, it worked! I finally had a system in place to protect myself from being the last to find out about major noise disturbances at my property.

Not long after that "it works!" moment, Andrew and I decided that this was a device meant to be shared with all managers and homeowners who were renting their home on rental sites like Homeaway, Airbnb, VRBO, etc. We set out to bring our new technology to vacation and short term rental homes across the country.

Today, NoiseAware provides hosts and owners with a real-time noise monitoring service that ensures our customers are the first to know of major noise disturbances at properties they are responsible for. Our customers can now relax knowing that their quiet hours are, indeed, quiet.

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