Devin has all the trappings of a self-made man who got his start as an Airbnb host, turning his home into a temporary abode for travelers. He would then create an up-start that deftly fuses together vocation and avocation, discipline and whimsy, labor and leisure.
“I wanted to make a company that was part of, and integrated into the sharing economy, but added value through management and support,” says the American.
Asistee—the firm he founded—offers ancillary services to rival hosts by outsourcing (and in some cases automating) onerous tasks to freelance workers. These include managing and cleaning the apartment, plus all forms of communication with guests. He also throws in consulting services on how to list properties on home-sharing platforms to homeowners for good measure. Basically the whole shebang.
When prodded on how he came up with this then novel idea, he says it was sensitivity to seismic shifts in the crowded vacation rentals space. He also wanted the sharing economy to stay true to its name by, well, sharing manna through job creation (those bed sheets won’t wash themselves, after all).
Long time coming
Devin’s entrepreneurial audacity goes back to when he operated small stands as a kid in his hometown of Meriden, Kansas. Business has always “been a lifelong desire,” he explains, while sipping a cold glass of oolong tea at his stylish Shibuya pad. “It started from childish stuff then to an IT web design company; back in the early 2000’s, when it was a huge (dotcom) boom.”
“By age 21 I had owned my dream house. I had everything. But I realized I was alone and that this isn’t life. So I went back to learning and focused my energy on becoming more social. I sold everything on Ebay then traveled around to experience other ways of living life. Eventually, I ended up spending all my travel savings. Feeling fulfilled, I went back to complete my MBA degree and wrote a research paper on Airbnb. Always wanting to push the limits of myself, I maxed out my credit card to get my first apartment in Tokyo and the rest is history. To quote Tony Robbins: `If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.’”