Keyvan Nilforoushan onefinestay

Vizions Q&A with Keyvan Nilforoushan

April 18th 2017

Keyvan Nilforoushan, deputy CEO at onefinestay, talks to us about working with humility and treating humans as an end unto themselves.

Tell us about your company. What do we need to know about onefinestay?
onefinestay is the leading global brand in the high-end serviced home category. We provide discerning travellers with access to the best homes around the world. We offer a full-service solution for business or leisure stays, from a few days to a few months, in situations when hotels aren’t desirable and regular leases aren’t practical. onefinestay differentiates itself for customers through its unique, caring service experience: just like having a friend in town wherever you travel.

We visit and vet every home, and select less than 1 in 10. We help guests pick the right home, and prepare it with our sheets, towels and toiletries before each stay. We provide insurance, meet guests in person, and remain available throughout their stay – then we get everything ready again before our members return home. All of which means onefinestay members can spend more time doing the things they want.

What’s your background? How does it influence your current role?
Before onefinestay, I was was Managing Partner at NextStage, a leading French venture capital and private equity fund, which I joined at inception. In many ways, this taught me to think strategically about issues, and constantly switch from the big picture to a high level details, understand what is essential and what is trivial. It also teaches when to trust, and when to doubt, your own judgment. You’re also lucky to be surrounded all day by very smart and engaged people – something we’ve certainly replicated at onefinestay.

In many other ways, running a financial company is nothing like running a company in the real world: in hospitality, service matters – serving the customer but also serving your team, humility matters, and follow-through matters.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
We’ve built something absolutely unique. What we do, of course, but more importantly the way we do it. Our customers crave authenticity, they want to connect with real human beings offering them service – but not servitude. They want to buy experiences, not rent real estate. And the only way to create a different experience outside the company is to create a different culture inside the company. The only way for our team members to care about our customers is for us to care about our team members. Love and profit – this is the extraordinary challenge we are tackling.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Treat humans as an end, not as a means to something else. I took it from the intro to Bob Townsend’s « Up the Organisation » but it’s originally from Kant. It means how we do things matters as much as what we do. And it’s the only way to build something for the long term.

What will you speak about at Vizions by Zalando? And what are you looking forward to about the conference?
onefinestay has a unique take on the platform model: our homeowners and our guests never know each other, never talk to each other, but a transaction still happen. We go beyond intermediation. This layer of service doesn’t just make things easier: it is an absolute prerequisite to our customers having the required peace of mind to rent their homes.

Beyond onefinestay, Accor also is a service company – with the clear DNA of an operator – that is aggressively deploying platform-enabled business model. How do these things work together? We believe the operating DNA is a feature, not a bug.