What does it take to run a fast-growing tech company?
A great idea, a willingness to work hard and a hospitable city in which to work and live.
John Prince found West Palm Beach to be the place for his company, HotelPlanner.com, the world’s largest provider of online group hotel bookings.
Since moving to the city five years ago, the company has outgrown executive office space downtown and recently leased a 15,000-square-foot office at the PNC Bank Building at 205 Datura St. The company employs 45 workers at its headquarters but needs space for up to 120. The new, larger headquarters will open Dec. 1.
HotelPlanner.com started in 2002, when Prince and his business partner, Tim Hentschel, were young, ambitious college graduates with an idea about how to use technology to make it easier to book blocks of hotel rooms. Their business has exploded.
Prince said his company has a unique system that allows hotels to compete for room blocks from major travel companies. Major clients now include sports organizations, such as the National Football League, and the federal government. The company also owns Meetings.com, which provides information on meeting and banquet venues around the world for corporate and association meeting planners.
Name: John Prince
First paying job and what you learned from it: At 16 years old, I was a commercial fisherman and I also worked at a pizza place, making pizzas and subs when I wasn’t out on a fishing trip. I’ll never forget one fellow fisherman asked me why I was going to leave fishing and go to college because I would be giving up such great money (commercial fishing is a very coveted job in Maine). I learned that just hard work alone wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to work hard and also build something of my own that could last for decades.
How your business has changed: When we first started, we were living the typical southern California start-up lifestyle with a fun, loft-style office space. As we grow into the hundreds of employees, we have gotten really good at screening new hires and hiring the right people. Since Tim and I can’t be involved in everything anymore, we have to put a major focus into hiring people who can carry our vision.
Best business book: Jim Rohn’s The Art of Exceptional Living. It also happens to be the first author of business books I’ve consumed, and definitely the most impactful on my life.
Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office: I have young kids, so I’d probably be changing diapers or walking the dog. I like to imagine my future self with more free time, and I see my family spending time boating or other outdoor activities.
ALEXANDRA CLOUGH, PALM BEACH POST