As the world recovers from the global shutdown, it’s time to live out our pandemic-induced lavish dreams IRL. Mega vacation rentals are the newest travel trend you didn’t even know you needed. Kyle Biskit, the CEO of California-based TSL Rentals, is optimistic about the future of luxury, grand accommodations, especially as families and friends groups are getting together for the first time in a long while. These accommodations offer the same comforts of a hotel or a resort but with that extra layer of safety, privacy, and security and also promote the concept of “bubble travel,” limiting interactions with others. And TSL Rentals doesn’t stand for Top Shelf Lifestyle for no reason: each property epitomizes luxury.
OL: Please tell us a little bit about your business.
KB: TSL Rentals specializes in luxury accommodations. Our main focus is luxury villas, beach houses, and penthouses in the la area, but we also provide luxury and exotic cars. We can also provide staffing for shoots and content shoots. We are the one-stop shop for anything luxury. We take pride in being a Black-owned business.
OL: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
KB: I am from Detroit, Michigan, and I started with nothing. I had no investors and didn’t receive any handouts. I built my business off of sheer hustle. I was planning parties and concerts. The company started in Detroit, Michigan, and eventually moved out to California. During my time in California, I would stay in luxury hotels and learn about the ins and outs of the hospitality industry. It was shortly after that I founded TSL Rentals which is now a multimillion-dollar company.
OL: What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?
KB: To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have callous skin and withstand adversity. Terrible things can and will happen that you will need to be prepared for. You cannot give up at the first sign of defeat. The second skill you need is the ability to remain calm under pressure. If you want to attain a high level of success, it comes with a great deal of pressure and stress that you have to learn to manage. Sometimes things can be uncertain or even scary. If you can’t remain calm, you won’t deal with the pressure of being an entrepreneur. Thirdly, you have to be willing to take action and risks. Some people overanalyze situations and think of every possible thing that can go wrong. They end up not taking any action because they are paralyzed by over-analysis. You can never reach a high level of success if you are hesitant to take action and fear taking risks. You’d be surprised at what you can achieve, but you have to take the first step.
OL: What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to grow this company?
KB: I plan to increase my inventory, tap into new markets such as Detroit, Phoenix, and Miami, and grow my business in Los Angeles. I want to be the one-stop shop for all luxury accommodations and continue to brand myself as a premier black-owned hospitality business.
OL: How have the pandemic and lockdown affected your business?
KB: The pandemic was a blessing in disguise. I lost a lot of money and almost had to close my business. During the time, I remained calm and pivoted my marketing strategy to make sure I could survive and grow. In the end, I felt that if I can survive covid, I can survive almost anything.
OL: How do you separate yourself from your competitors?
KB: I am what makes my company different. As an entrepreneur, I can bring a different approach to space. When people look at me, they don’t expect me to work in the hospitality business, which sets me apart. Like me, I can show people that by starting with no money or a certain skill set, you can make it out of any situation and become who you aspire to be. My belief is you do not have to fit into anybody’s model of what the “ideal image” should be. I think my business and I are very relatable in that aspect.
OL: What were the top three mistakes you made starting your business? What did you learn from them?
KB: I first started my company by renting out my personal cars back in Detroit. Doing this, I would have a ton of issues with renters getting into accidents without the proper insurance. I eventually learned how to do things properly with contracts, insurance, etc.
KB: The second mistake was relying too much on other people. While we definitely need assistance from others, you need to know where to draw the line to have a successful business. People will often let you down as they don’t always have your best interest in mind, leading to disappointment and discouragement. The key is to find people whose interests are aligned with yours. This way, you know the partnership is mutually beneficial. A huge mistake people make in business relationships is going into business with people without the same philosophy. If the situation isn’t mutually beneficial, it won’t last. Therefore you need to learn to rely on yourself as much as possible, and if you have to rely on other people, make sure your interests are aligned.
KB: The third mistake is being unorganized. When I first started, being unorganized wasn’t as high of a cost as it is now. The more I was able to grow my business, being unorganized led to bigger mistakes. I had one mistake that cost me over $100K because of a technicality that I could rectify with a proper system. While the loss was hurtful, I was able to learn a valuable lesson. As you grow your business, it’s easier to let things. Slip through the crack. Increasing your revenue, there is more at stake, and each mistake can cost you more.
OL: Tell us a little bit about your marketing process; what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
KB: My marketing strategy has mostly been through social media and referrals. Referrals have been a huge part of where we see new customers coming from. It’s one thing to see an advertisement but another thing when someone you know has tried the service or product and has a glowing review.
OL: What have been your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?
A big challenge has to be a young black man trying to make a name for himself in the hospitality industry. As a person of color, it can be a a bit of a challenge to get taken seriously. Because of this, I have to choose to carry myself with confidence when talking to potential business partners. I work twice as hard because people (most of the time) will judge off appearance. This means I have to work harder to earn their trust. I’ve had previous situations where I would meet someone in person after connecting with them via email/phone, and they were shocked to see I was a young black man.
The minute I would speak with confidence and assertion, others took me seriously. There are still people who won’t do business with me because of my lool, but I choose to focus my efforts on working with people who accept me as I am.
OL: What was your first business idea, and what did you do with it?
KB: My first business idea was selling basketball cards at school in the first grade. I used my knowledge of good cards and bad cards to negotiate a deal. I would take the cards home and selling them for $1 each. One day, I came home with about $60 in $1 bills until the teacher caught wind of what I was doing one day. My mom was called, and I was asked to give the money back. That was the end of my first business.
OL: What are you learning now? Why is that important?
KB: Right now, I’m learning patience. Growing a business and creating wealth can be a slow, tedious process. You have to be willing to stay the course even if the process is slow and the days are long.
OL: If you started your business again, what things would you do differently?
KB: I would not change a thing. By making mistakes, I have learned what makes my business successful and what I can do better.
OL: What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
KB: I use Neat, bookkeeping software that makes things much easier for my accountant and bookkeeper. It helps me better understand where my money is going and what investments are being made. I use WhatsApp to communicate the most with vendors and clients. To promote my business, I used Instagram. The platform gives me an online presence and a way for people to familiarize themselves with my brand.
OL: What helps you stay driven and motivated to keep going in your business?
KB: When I was broke, I didn’t know where my next meal would come from, and I never want to go back to that place. Whenever I want to pull back or get lazy, I reflect on my past and what I’ve had to go through to get here.
OL: What is your favorite quote?
KB: To get to the top of the mountain, you need to be able to deal with heavy pressure (the higher you go, the more pressure there will be)
OL: What valuable advice would you give new entrepreneurs starting?
KB: Whatever you are doing, make sure to put money aside to invest in things that will bring you residual income. Lump sums can be spent, and you will be back to having no money, but if you can create residual passive income, it will change your life. This is the type of money that comes in everything month no matter what.
OL: What is your definition of success?
KB: Success is not something you can easily attain. It’s a continuous thing you must practice every day. There are always new heights to reach and new mountains to climb.
OL: How do you personally overcome fear?
KB: Repeated acts of courage can overcome fear. The way I knew how to overcome fear is to face it head-on.
OL: How can readers get in touch with you?
KB: People can follow me on Instagram on my personal page @bankmanbiskit and my company page @tslrentals.