This month’s Member Spotlight is showcasing Matt White, one of the founders of the soon to be Ruamoko Hostel
in Nicaragua. After years of dreaming, Ruamoko received initial investment to get the ball rolling. Now they are about to launch a huge crowdfunding campaign this Thursday! The campaign goes live on March 30th, and they need YOUR help.
We’ve all been a dreamer at some point, and none of us would be here today without some help & support along the way. After all, it’s why we have such a dynamic Hostel Management community of over 20,000 members. Take a look at their story below, and if you can spare a coffee or a lunch out this week, throw them a few bucks on their campaign.
Extra Special: They have included a secret perk for Hostel Management members! Check it out at the top of the rewards list.
What is the current dream?
The dream for us at Ruamoko Hostel is simple. Create a world-class destination party hostel that any backpacker can afford to stay at and become part of the Ruamoko family. Like all new businesses, we understand this will take time to build up our reputation and brand. That is why from the very first guest who walks through our doors to our last, we will make it our absolute mission to give each and every person the best hostel experience they will ever have!
Whenever Andrew and I describe some of the best hostels we have ever stayed at, we like to use the word legendary, and one day we hope our guests will describe our hostel as just that.
Tell us about your Crowdfunding. Why did you decide to do it, and why should other hostel owners & managers help you out?
At first, we didn’t even consider crowdfunding as a viable option to raise money for the hostel. It was only after a year or so that a light bulb went off and I said “I wonder if crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo will allow a hostel venture like this to be supported on their platform. Sure enough, a hostel in Nicaragua actually beat us to the punch and successfully raised close to $30K from their Indiegogo campaign. I was sold on the idea ever since I saw that, and set out on a trip with my business partner Andrew, and friend & videographer Liam, where we filmed the campaign video on site in Nicaragua.
Getting our equipment through security was not the easiest thing to do in Nicaragua, and we almost had everything confiscated at the airport! It would have been a complete disaster; thankfully we were able to film and got some EPIC footage.
Anyone looking to do a similar campaign as ours, I would recommend planning well in advance! We have never done anything like this before, but thankfully we had some help along the way in structuring the film shots and script. But at the end of the day, we pretty much winged it and hoped for the best. We have spent countless hours re-doing our video and even now, we’re still editing it! So make sure you plan well, tell a great story, keep it entertaining as much as possible, and dream big.
What does Rūamoko mean?
In Māori mythology, Rūaumoko, also known as Rūamoko, is the god of Volcanoes, earthquakes, and seasons. But fear not! His energy is equivalent to his kindness and our hostel is no different. With such great power comes great responsibility, and it is our mission to create a legendary hostel experience that even the legend himself would be proud of!
What is your background?
I’m Matt, from Ottawa, Canada. 27 years old, I graduated from Saint F.X University in 2012 with a business degree.
Matt, standing on his land in Nicaragua
What inspired you to get involved in running or opening hostels?
It all started when I stayed in my first hostel in Thailand. That was 4 years ago… and ever since then, travel is what’s on my mind 24/7. Seeing the world changed my life and it opened up the realm of what is possible in today’s world. Travel is what I love and I figured that if I only take ONE big risk in my life, this is what I will do. This will be my greatest accomplishment to date and I hope it will inspire others to take risks and dream big.
Andrew would likely say the exact same.
Describe what gives your hostel its magic that makes it so special?
Some of the best hostels I ever stayed at were not special because they had the best parties, or the nicest rooms, or best location, it was because they had an amazing staff! Ruamoko Hostel will aim to hire and employ only the best people we can find. Our employees, including the owners, will all have the same vision from day 1 and will have a clear understanding that our guests are the most important part of the hostel. We will treat them like family when they come and stay at our hostel no matter what! That said, we will also throw awesome parties, have great food and great accommodation to sleep in!
Which other hostels inspire you?
Blancos Hostel, Thailand, is amazing for parties and I have never had so much fun in my life. One of the managers & very close friends is actually now a partner in Ruamoko Hostel as well.
Carpe Noctem Vitae in Budapest, Hungary. It has a living room where everyone has dance parties every night and then the coolest little balcony where everyone sits super close and drinks before a night out. The staff was awesome and it felt very homey.
Zephyr Lodge in Semuk Champey, Guatemala is definitely an inspiration. We didn’t necessarily take things from there but they just have every element to a hostel that people are gonna fall in love with: infinity pool, stunning 360 views, surrounded by mountains, a killer bar, and amazing atmosphere.
What has been your biggest challenge in starting a hostel?
Finding a business partner to see the same vision as us and to take such a risk was challenging. A few times the idea of giving up crossed my mind but for only a second ☺. Thankfully, persistence and an undeniable belief in this hostel finally introduced us to our first major investor 3 months ago. And then we got 2 more investors shortly after. Ruamoko hostel suddenly became a very real thing. It still does not feel real.
What were your first steps to a very big process?
1st step was to find out if Andy and I were crazy enough to actually go forward with this idea…. after we bought a 1-acre lot of land in Nicaragua, it was clear we were. Then we created our business plan, filmed the campaign video and set out to find investors/partner afterward.
Andy and Matt on their land for the first time where Ruamoko Hostel will sit.
What has helped you the most in the process of starting a hostel?
My parents have helped out so much in giving me sound advice and helped to make me think about this from the point of view of an investor and “why” they would want to invest in “me” and Ruamoko Hostel.
Andrew, my business partner, has been key throughout this entire project and together we really helped support one another. Andrew’s passion is contagious, and everyone could learn a thing or two about staying positive in a crummy situation from this guy.
What was some great advice you were given that is proving true?
The best advice is to not take the first opportunity that presents itself. Be patient and wait until all other opportunities present themselves….as hard as it is to wait, that has been the best for us and we could be in a very different situation if we were not patient. We may not be here telling this story if we jumped on the first opportunity.
Of all the hats a hostel operator has to wear, which ones do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?
Andrew and I are the founders, and that comes with a lot of responsibility. We owe it to the rest of the team to remain positive during negative situations. We must always stay optimistic during any situation, and supporting our team members will be at the core of our future success. Running a hostel is a team effort and it can be difficult, but thankfully we are all ready for the challenges and successes that await. The Ruamoko team have 100% confidence in one another.
How has HostelManagement.com been useful for you?
HM has been nothing short of amazing. It allowed me the opportunity to connect with potential partners from around the world who share the same passion and vision as I do. HM’s free forum was a blessing and because of it, I am here today sharing this story with you all.
What would you like to see HostelManagement.com do in the future to become even more useful for you?
I went on HM looking for answers, partnerships, and community, HM delivered on all of that and the hostel industry and community should never take this website for granted. We love you HM and thank you for sharing our story and business with the world. Hope to see everyone in Nicaragua one day!