Mario Mouraz, Founder and CEO of Climber RMS tells us how its hotel software is improving the way hotel professionals perform their revenue management.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mario Mouraz: Thanks for asking. Even though several of us, me included, got infected with Covid, everyone is well now.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Climber RMS.
Mario Mouraz: I became an entrepreneur in 2013 after discovering I’d like to work for a travel tech startup and after having lived through a difficult period of my life as a volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Climber is my third attempt as an entrepreneur, and it was a pivot from my second company, which was a data analytics software for hotels.
How does Climber RMS innovate?
Mario Mouraz: Climber we produce software to help improving hoteliers’ lives. We have the brightest minds in software development and data science, developing a Revenue Management solution that tracks demands and offers to automate dynamic pricing in hotels, allowing hotels to increase their revenues up to 30% per year and automate 50% of their tasks, saving them time.
For 6 years, we have developed software for hotels based on Machine learning, hoping that automation and intelligence would disrupt the sector.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mario Mouraz: Due to the pandemic our company was severely damaged. Clients called in, postponing payments, canceling contracts, and we couldn’t sign in new customers. Because of that, we were forced to be innovative and be flexible; thus, in July last year, we’ve launched a long-lasting project idea we had to turn our solution agnostic to any type of hotel. Even though that idea sounded inconceivable pre-Covid times, we’ve tried hard for 4 months to bring this new solution to life. Our team worked day and night, and in July 2020, we finally launched Climber Lite, a complete disrupter in hotel Revenue Management technology. By being able to work with any hotel independently of their geographic location or type of existing technology used, we would be able to work with that. With that, the unimaginable happens…we started receiving so much demand for this new product. Sales skyrocketed, and we have doubled the number of clients we had acquired in the past 6 years in only 6 months, during the pandemic. Boom! We knew we were doing something right.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mario Mouraz: The biggest takeaway is that startups should risk and try to beat incumbents by really doing something different. Prior to Covid, we were kind of replicating what bigger brands were already doing, cheaper. Startups shouldn’t compete on price, never! Startups can do in so little time what big companies take years to develop. That’s our advantage… we just need to use it in our favor. But for that, we need founders to risk more. If I knew what I know today, I’d have launched Climber Lite 6 years earlier. In case of doubt, go for what is uncomfortable. Try more.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Mario Mouraz: We are a 10-people team, all remote. We delegate and empower our mid-management layer to assume day-to-day decisions. We have a decentralized structure as oppose to a hierarchical rigid structure where founders are the bottlenecks. This allows me (founder) to focus on strategy and high-level business development, such as opening new markets. As for communication and tools for internal organization, we all use Basecamp as a repository for files, meeting notes, and client onboardings and use Discord for synchronous communication. We attempt to use as less email as possible and try to have as few meetings as possible. Meetings are a time waste.
Also, whenever someone comes to me and asks, “hey Mario, what do you think of this idea?” and I say, “I don’t care, test it and let me know the results“. It’s really about empowering people to try, fail and then succeed. More often than not, the results are surprising.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mario Mouraz: We compete with large enterprise software companies that have in the game for 20+ years. They have 100 times more cash and resources than we do. We can’t simply compete by following the rules of their game; thus, we instill internally the emergency and shortage culture. A practical example is me asking the team, “how can you do what you were planning to achieve in 6 months, in 2 weeks instead?” or “how can you run that project without a budget?” These sorts of questions really force us to be agile, incentivize lateral thinking, and be creative, and then the possibilities are endless.
Your final thoughts?
Mario Mouraz: We are in the startup game to stay. We believe the path forward is walked differently than what brought us here. Therefore we need to be constantly trying new methods to scale. The word of the day is testing. If you are in doubt, test.