Meet James Svetec
World-leading Airbnb Expert & Founder of BNB Mastery
James Svetec is the founder of BNB Mastery, co-author of Airbnb for Dummies, and widely regarded as one of the world’s leading Airbnb Experts.
His flagship program, BNB Mastery Program has helped hundreds of people to earn a full-time income managing other people’s properties on Airbnb.
James Svetec’s BNB Journey
Hey there! My name’s James Svetec and I’d like to share a bit of my story with you.
My first “real” business was a student painting business that I started as part of a franchise during my first year of university in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Before that, I’d run your typical childhood lemonade stand and I’d done an okay job of making some money cutting lawns and tending gardens in my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario throughout high school.
Now, the nice thing about starting a franchise business specifically during university was that I got to follow a proven system and learn from experienced coaches all along the way. That allowed me to experience some pretty awesome success early on and generate about $250,000 worth of work during my first two years of running the business.
Following that I moved up in the company to become a Regional Manager. Basically, that meant that I got the opportunity to become one of the coaches that other students would learn from while starting their own businesses. Coaching was my very first love.
Having the opportunity every single day to teach people how to grow their own businesses was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I got to be there for all of the ups and the downs. I got to celebrate the massive wins and help my students to recover from all of their losses. I really got an opportunity to shape the leaders that these students were becoming, and being a part of their journey and their success brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.
Taking the next step
After 2 years of working as a coach I decided that I loved it more than anything I’d ever done, and so I needed to quit…
Counterintuitive, I know.
My thinking at the time (which I don’t regret in the slightest looking back) was that it would be very easy for me to settle in and make this career of coaching my permanent home. That being said, I knew that there were parts of working for somebody else that I didn’t quite love, and that at 21 years old, I really ought to “go for broke” and not settle for anything less than a career/business that I absolutely loved and was challenged by every single day.
With that in mind, I called up my boss (and first ever mentor, aside from my parents) and quit.
I set out on the exciting journey of building a business that was completely my own for the very first time. No more bumpers, no more “proven system” and no more anyone to answer to.
Enter: Pursuit Watches
Throughout the course of my life, I’d always had a real affinity for watches. Something about them just really intrigued me. The class, the history, I don’t quite know why, I just know that I loved them. In fact, I loved them enough to start a business designing, manufacturing and distributing them around the world.
I first launched the business on a crowdfunding website you may or may not have heard of, called Kickstarter. I got my first $20,000 in sales and was on my way to massive success…
… Or not.
Shortly after receiving that $20,000 and promptly spending it all (and then some) purchasing inventory, shipping products, and building a fancy new website, I found myself about $10,000 in debt with about $200/month in sales. Not good.
I tried to fix my “lack of sales” problem by investing more money into marketing, however because I no longer had a system to follow or anyone to teach me how to actually go about successfully marketing watches, I ended up digging myself an even deeper hole.
To make matters worse, because I had never learned how to *properly* build a website, those $200/month in sales turned out to be credit card scammers who were testing stolen cards on my fancy new website.
By the time it was all said and done, I was $20,000 in debt, unemployed, and unable to even afford my rent.
Wallowing in self-pity
So what’s a guy to do when he’s 22 years old with $20K in debt and a failed business?
Why, buy a one-way plane ticket to Thailand, of course!
At least in Thailand I’d be able to wallow in self-pity on the cheap while eating some delicious Pad Thai.
To make a long story short, I stayed in Thailand for a grand total of about 3 months before coming to my senses and facing the reality that at one point or another I was going to need to pull myself out of the hole that I’d dug myself into. Not knowing how exactly I was going to go about doing that just yet, I decided to go back to the only thing that had been even remotely successful throughout this business venture: crowdfunding.
I started another crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to sell off all of my remaining inventory at cost. Call it luck, call it God, call it the Universe conspiring in my favor, 27 days later I woke up to this:
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, James Svetec was officially back at a net worth of slightly more than $0.
After going through what turned out to be my very first and very embarrassing business failure, I realized that I was faced with two options.
Option 1: Go back to working for someone else and settle on my dreams and goals.
Option 2: Pick myself back up, dust myself off, and give it another go.
Needless to say, I chose option two, however I did it with the wise words of Albert Einstein in mind:
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”
The truth was that I had no idea what I was doing when it came to product-based businesses and they were a whole different animal than service-based businesses. As a result, I lacked a lot of the skills, tools and training that I would need and success would be an uphill battle.
If I decided to start a service-based business, I’d be able to apply a lot of the strategies that I already knew were highly effective. Not only that, but I’d also be able to lean on my past coaches for support and guidance. The decision was a no-brainer.
I went into full-blown “research mode” with the goal of finding a business I could start that would meet the following criteria:
1.) Little to no startup cost
2.) Low month overhead
3.) Monthly recurring revenue
4.) High profit margins
A tall order for sure, but why not swing for the fences?
After all, I was still in need of money to support myself and going into a whole bunch of debt again felt a lot more like gambling than starting a business.
Sitting on the front porch of my Airbnb one day, it hit me. People were using Airbnb in a number of different ways to make money. Some were hosting their own homes, some were hosting a spare bedroom… After doing some more research, I found out that some people were even renting properties from landlords and then flipping them onto Airbnb!
The latter sounded like a viable option, but startup cost would be high as would monthly overhead. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I could help property owners make more money and eliminate a bunch of their headaches at the same time, they’d probably be more than willing to pay for something like that!
I went to the drawing board and started putting together a rough idea of how I’d build the business. Not to skip over the good stuff, but 12 months later I was managing about 40 properties all across Toronto and a number of them were top 1% performers in a city of over 14,000 listings.
My return to coaching
After successfully building my business in record-time, I had a few friends and colleagues reach out and ask me to share my secrets.
How had I built the business so quickly?
How had I managed to get it to the point where it was “running itself” day to day?
Like I said, coaching was my very first love, so convincing me to help them start their own businesses using the same approach was far from a hard sell.
After helping a few early clients to achieve success in their businesses and build to 5, 10, 20 + properties under management, I built the very first version of BNB Mastery Program (pictured above) and I decided to go all-in on coaching.
Building businesses is one of the things I enjoy most in this world, so being able to do it alongside other like-minded people every single day is a dream come true for me.
Where we’re at today
For the past several years now, I’ve been coaching students through BNB Mastery Program and BNB Hosting Accelerator full-time and I absolutely love it. Our property management business is still alive and well in Toronto, Canada, however I’m largely removed from all the day-to-day operations of the business (something I teach all of my students to achieve as well) and focused on helping other hosts and students all over the world.
I’ve now also co-authored “Airbnb for Dummies” distributed by Wiley Publishing and had the opportunity to work alongside childhood mentors such as Mr. Robert Kyosaki.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to have teamed up with Symon He in running LearnBNB, which is now the most popular Airbnb blog on the internet!
Through our world-leading programs, we now teach students all over the world how to be successful on Airbnb, how to manage properties for others, and above all else, how to earn a full-time income doing something that they truly enjoy and which adds value to others.
I’d love for you to join me!