If our Twitter feed was to believed this morning, a freshly-launched startup called Valet.com is the biggest thing to hit the internet since Spotify. (Or should we say Color?) Path’s Shakil “Shak” Khan, an adviser to the heat-seeking Swedish music startup, compared it to the former, tweeting, “Not since the Spotify launch have I had SO MANY requests for invites to a service,” along with an invite code.
A photo showed more than 117,000 Facebook comments in 54 seconds in response to a status update from Playtime founder Micah Spear saying “If you Travel more than twice a year and you do it in style. Sign up for @Valet and do what you do better.”
Is it even possible to get that many comments? We put the question to Valet.com founder and CEO Josh Spear (Micah’s brother). “That was a FB bug,” the “frequent-flyer-mile-collector” responded by email. “But pretty funny nonetheless and poured gas on the fire.”
It doesn’t seem like he needs the help.
Under the tagline, “Travel with benefits,” Valet.com offers services like city guides curated by the in crowd and “exclusive rates and benefits at luxury at boutique hotels in more than 45 cities.” CoolHunting, which broke the news, goes into a little more detail. We rushed over to the site before Mr. Khan’s invite code expired, but came to a screeching halt when we realized (1) you had to enter your credit card info to sign up and (2) the service costs $199 a year.
In a letter on the site, Mr. Spear, a “Young Global Leader” at the World Economic Forum, tells potential members that the site is dedicated to “giving likeminded global travelers the same benefits I’ve had for a long time.” Still, we weren’t the only ones that needed some convincing before flashing our wallet.
Mr. Spear explained that Valet.com is able to get 10 to 40 percent discounts from hotel partners because members, who have to go through a screening process, represent, “a closed network of like-minded and highly influential people.”
There’s one big difference between Valet.com and other startups that have had a buzzy debut (often on the back of a big investment): the company, which was launched in January, doesn’t have any outside financing. “No we are not venture funded, we are adventure funded,” Mr. Spear quipped by email. Like, not even one of those frothy “party rounds” so in vogue these days.
Any tricks for creating this much launch-day hype–besides the old reliable myth of-invite-scarcity, of course? “I think we’ve created an extremely powerful brand with the name Valet,” Mr. Spear offered by email. “And we’ve tapped into enormous potential with the huge demographic of creative influencers across art, design, entertainment and the web that all want to get insider access to a city and curated experiences they can’t find publicly available. Hotels are the heart of most cities when you travel, and knowing where people like Jeff Staple or Josh Rubin (CoolHunting.com) go in a place like Tokyo or New York can make or break your trip.”
Mr. Spear’s co-founder is serial entrepreneur Aaron Rutledge, who serves as the company’s CTO. Josh was busy occupying our Twitter feed, so we shot a quick question over to Micah. Is Valet.com a New York City company? “Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Not really,” he told us via DM. “Josh is based in every hotel in the world ;)”