- Wander rents out beautifully furnished homes with fancy desks, fast internet, and Teslas.
- It caters to people who can work from anywhere as well as vacationers.
- The 9-month-old startup just raised $20 million to expand from five to 50 homes this year.
John Andrew Entwistle needed a break after resigning from his job last year.
The 24-year-old entrepreneur — who in January 2021 left his role as CEO of Coder, a software-development company he’d cofounded in Austin, Texas — settled on a cabin in Colorado, but he found the conditions of his vacation rental were far from optimal for anyone who wanted to get some work done.
The Wi-Fi was slow, Entwistle recalled, and the beds were uncomfortable. For him, those downsides were merely inconvenient. But for so-called “digital nomads” — who travel the world while working remotely and whose numbers have ballooned during the pandemic and the accompanying boom in work-from-anywhere culture — certain amenities are crucial.
So nine months ago, he founded Wander, a short-term-rental company designed for remote workers and travelers to enjoy the finer things. Wander’s five homes come equipped with fitness areas, tricked-out workstations with curved monitors, high-quality microphones, and cameras — and, yes, high-speed internet. Plus, each has a Tesla for guests to drive.
“We’re seeing this massive shift within travel and how people live and work, and it’s clear that this is going to continue for quite a while,” said Entwistle, who is also Wander’s CEO. “Even though people want to go on vacation, it’s really nice to have a great desk setup.”
Wander owns and operates five properties in what the company calls “inspiring” settings: one each in Bandon Dunes and Port Orford, along the Pacific Ocean in Oregon; one north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway in Gualala, California; one by the ski mountains of Lake Tahoe in Truckee, California; and one tucked between the desert haven of Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park in Yucca Valley, California.
Prices range from $350 a night for the two-bedroom house in Bandon Dunes to $900 a night for the roomier three-bedroom property at Wander Tahoe Slopes in Truckee.
And the number of homes is slated to grow: Entwistle and his team just raised $20 million in Series A funding, with plans to expand to more than 50 properties by the end of 2022, the company said. Backers include QED Investors, Redpoint Ventures, and the NBA star and venture capitalist Kevin Durant.
The lack of inventory and high prices of homes across the US, especially in popular vacation spots, make it hard to purchase homes in bulk, but Entwistle said he’s not worried.
“The housing market across the US, and abroad, is extremely vast,” he said. “Wander’s inventory, even at scale, is just a drop in the bucket.”
Owning all of its homes allows Wander to offer consistent features from property to property. Guests can control many actions, from unlocking doors to turning on fire pits, through a proprietary app on their mobile phones.
“We thought that an Apple-like approach of owning the hardware and the software and integrating the two is really the only way to have that perfect guest experience,” Entwistle said.
The Bergers, a Las Vegas family of five, decided to try Wander for a short vacation in late December. In search of high-end accommodations with easy access to adventurous outings, they booked the two-bedroom home in Bandon Dunes that sits right on the ocean.
“They had a Tesla in the garage, which was amazing,” the mom, Tracy Berger, told Insider. “We could go sightseeing. We could be in a beautiful location. We could be together as a family, but then we could also do our own thing.”
Tracy added that even though booking through Wander cost a bit more than Airbnb, she found the quality of the stay worth it.
Entwistle said the ambitious goals he has for Wander align with what he thinks Americans value today.
“People need the tools to work and to be productive,” he said. “You don’t go to a place like a Wander just to sit in front of your computer. If you aren’t staring at the ocean or going on a hike, then I think you’ve probably misused the product.”