A Startup Within a Startup at Sonder

This spring, I joined Sonder, a rapidly-scaling tech company looking to launch their DC market. The company was completely new to me but the opportunity was too exciting to pass up.

Sonder aims to provide a unique, yet consistent experience for stays in beautiful hand-picked locations in cities around the world. Each Sonder is purposefully selected, designed and maintained — customized to reflect the vibe of its neighborhood. With thousands of beautiful spaces built for travel and life, Sonder is transforming the future of hospitality. And with 24/7 on-demand service, crisp linens, and over 200 other quality standards, we’re “taking stay further” for guests all around the world.

Why startups?

After college, I spent five years as a logistics officer in the Marine Corps. I found the excitement, leadership opportunity, and organizational challenges right up my alley. After starting a family, I transitioned to the more stable world of financial consulting, doing project management with Ernst & Young. Working with sharp, driven people at both of these organizations energized me, as did fast-paced and challenging work.

However, the stodgy mega-bureaucracies felt stifling. I was ready to lose the suit and tie and TPS reports.

So, for the last two years, I worked at startups while completing my MBA studies at the University of Virginia. I discovered an incredible world of high ownership, rapid speed of change, and creative problem-solving. I had found my fit.

Why Sonder?

Although opportunities with other startups, more established tech companies, and consulting were all on the table, launching Sonder DC as General Manager was the most attractive option for me personally. Here’s why:

Building something new. We are all familiar with the disappointing experiences of tired, cookie-cutter hotels or sketchy homeshares. Sonder is creating a new way to stay. It’s exciting to be on the front lines of a significant new development in the world of hospitality. Thousands of people will stay at properties that my team launches!

Sonder is scaling fast. I wanted to experience a company in hyper-growth, both for the excitement and the career opportunities it presents. This year alone, we will have grown from 13 markets to over 24 across four countries and two continents. The company headcount has grown 40%+ in my first three months here. As Google’s CEO told a young Sheryl Sandberg, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.”

Building a team. There is no greater leadership opportunity than to recruit and lead your own autonomous team. I’m blessed with the chance of launching a “startup within a startup.” We have the benefits of support and institutional knowledge from HQ, combined with the Day One culture-defining scrappiness of building Sonder DC from scratch. Laying cultural foundations is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, even in such simple ways as starting team mantras like my favorites “no ego!”, “always improving!” and the ever-present “we’ll figure it out.”

Connecting travelers with our local community. Every Sonder is uniquely designed to be in effortless harmony with its distinctive neighborhood. We are partnering with local businesses to connect our guests with local hospitality and authentic experiences — such as our favorite restaurants, a nearby spa, and the neighborhood watering hole. I’m excited to bring amenities and local character to our guests, instead of creating that artificial island of self-absorbed hotel “hospitality” best exemplified by an outrageously-priced minibar.

Interested in Sonder?

So far, this has been the most fun I’ve had in any role in my career. My hope is that you can benefit from Sonder one day soon.

Learn more about joining our mission! Check out open roles on our careers page.

Connect with me. Feel free to follow up with me on LinkedIn with any questions you might have.

Explore a Sonder. See what staying in a Sonder could be like on one of your future trips!

Published by Patrick

I provide coaching to entrepreneurial leaders so they can build their businesses successfully and experience unrivaled personal growth.

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