James and Lester first met in University while in Los Angeles, California in 2002. The pair immediately became the best of friends through their love for off-the-beaten track traveling and immersing themselves with local experiences while staying in a foreign land.
During one of their early trips to Europe, the pair discovered bed and breakfast and homestay accommodations for the first time. Staying in a mixture of such accommodations, Lester and James were able to stretch their budgets longer than their friends who stayed in traditional hotels. They met friendly locals who were able to show them a different side of Europe no normal tourist could experience.
Having returned to Asia to begin their corporate careers as eager-eyed graduates in Singapore, they started traveling to Asian cities and to their surprise found it challenging to search for Asian BnBs. Also, they noticed that many of their friends and families were unfamiliar with BnBs as most just conveniently stayed in hotels.
After organizing many alternative-style trips for their friends, most of them couldnâ€™t stop raving about the cost savings and the uniqueness of the experience. Lester and James knew that if their friends liked it, others would too.
They saw an immense potential to promote such unique accommodation experiences on a broader scale in Asia. Over the next 2 years, outside of their day jobs, Lester and James started talking to all kinds of people to stitch together a mosaic of views of BnBs and homestay in Asia.
They discovered that younger and educated Asian travelers were receptive to see more of the world by staying in a home that is more affordable and comfortable; and open-minded homeowners were â€œwowedâ€ by idea that they could earn extra income by renting out their spare rooms to travelers.
With some savings accumulated, James and Lester quit their corporate careers and started PandaBed in December of 2012; its mission is simply to offer the safest and most comfortable alternative-accommodations in Asia.