Julian is the CEO and founder of VacationRoost. He is passionate about the vacation rental industry and has built a team that shares his vision for building the leading online marketplace for vacation rentals. As a veteran media executive with more than 18 years of senior-level operating experience and a world-class institutional background, Julian is also the CEO of Castles Media Company.
Before founding VacationRoost, Julian served as Chief Financial Officer of Primedia, a $300 million Internet media company that owns and operates leading brands: Apartment Guide/Apartmentguide.com, New Home Guide/Newhomeguide.com, Auto Guide/Autoguide.com, and Rentals.com. While at Primedia, Julian also served as President of the Autoguide.com business, and he was also responsible for the launch and development of Rentals.com.
Julian previously served as CFO of PageNet, a $1 billion public telecom company. He also was a founder and managing director of Cabrillo Advisors, a boutique financial advisory firm. Julian began his career as an investment banker with Goldman, Sachs and Co. in 1990, later serving as a strategy consultant with McKinsey and Company. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Amherst College. View full bio.
George leads the sales, back-office and financial teams for VacationRoost. He brings more than 20 years of senior-level executive experience in finance, accounting, operations, and sales and marketing to the company. He is also a founding member of the Castles Media team.
Prior to VacationRoost and Castles Media, George was Director of Finance with Nokia Inc. Enterprise Solutions business group, with global financial responsibility for the ES Sales and Marketing group. While at Nokia, George led Six Sigma projects, winning national and global awards and becoming a Six Sigma Certified Green Belt, making him a master at identifying and removing causes and defects of the business process.
George has held senior-level controller, director, and manager roles at GTE (Verizon) and ILD Telecommunications. His experience includes IPO filings, SEC filings and acquisitions. He has had extensive international business experience, having worked in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and China.
George has an MBA from Southern Methodist University and a BBA in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. View full bio.
Jim Barsch joined VacationRoost in 2010 and brings with him more than 20 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. Jim leads our Partner Service Division, Technical Development, Travel Agent Business, and general operations. In addition, he is responsible for exploring and evaluating potential business relationships with VacationRoost.
Jim’s love, expertise, and passion for travel have fueled his leadership in a number of companies. He has held executive positions with The Mark Travel Corporation, Pleasant Holidays, Morris Murdock Travel, and other nationally recognized tour wholesalers. He has led company startups and merger/acquisition implementations. Additionally he has been heavily involved in the technological transformation of several companies in the travel industry over the past 20 years.
He holds a Bachelors of Science in Travel & Tourism from Brigham Young University. View full bio
Jeff leads the marketing group at VacationRoost. He brings over 15 years of online marketing, sales, business development and technology
experience to the VacationRoost team.
Jeff joined the VacationRoost family in late 2013 as part of the VacationRentalAgent.com (VRA) and HawaiianBeachRentals.com (HBR) acquisition where he served as the CEO. Jeff founded VRA and HBR in 2002 and lead its explosive growth to become a $25 million software and vacation rental company.
Past professional experience includes owning an online media consulting company, working for CDNOW and Mitsubishi International. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Finance from the University of Richmond. View full bio
Kristen Cherry joined the VacationRoost team in 2009 after gaining valuable experience as the Director of Operations for Moguls Mountain Travel. Kristen is a highly experienced business development and relationships leader with a record of success promoting the growth of organizations in travel, tourism, and hospitality over the last ten years.
Kristen is considered a "game changer" in the development of local, regional, and international mountain markets, and is also recognized for promoting a culture of pride in product and performance within our Market Management team. As an acknowledged leader in strategically aligning the needs of the “green” and active lifestyle customer through contracted product and packaging, she is recognized as a turn-around specialist who quickly changes underperforming businesses into top-market performers.
Kristen’s love for the outdoors and passion for business development make her the perfect fit for the travel industry. Kristen holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Brevard College in North Carolina. View full bio.
Jeremy leads the accounting and finance department at VacationRoost and has extensive experience in accounting and finance with more than ten years of increasing finance and managerial experience. He also has a strong understanding of systems and databases and is responsible for the internal and external reporting of the company. Jeremy has been working in the vacation rental industry for over six years and was part of the original team at VacationRoost.
Before joining VacationRoost, Jeremy worked at Overstock.com as a staff accountant where he was eventually promoted to controller over the travel department. He worked as the director of forecasting and reporting for the merchandising department. Jeremy was also heavily involved with Sarbanes Oxley requirements, internal controls and the PCI compliance project. Prior to working at Overstock, Jeremy worked as an auditor at PRG Schultz and as an accountant for a startup data warehouse company.
Jeremy has an MBA and BA in Finance from the University of Utah. View full bio.
Driving online success one metric at a time, Ryan Hutchings is a seasoned veteran in the online marketing industry. With nearly ten years of online marketing experience and over five years specifically in the travel/tourism industry, Ryan understands the online landscape and strategy that will help take the company to the next level. From advertising to analytics, Ryan develops comprehensive online strategies that lead to long-term growth and success.
Ryan is a Certified Google Adwords Professional, SEOmoz Pro member and top contributor to various online marketing communities. Specialties include eCommerce optimization, Information Architecture, link building, organic traffic growth, online advertising portfolio management, tracking and reporting, and affiliate marketing. View full bio.
Michael joined the VacationRoost team in the summer of 2004 as a sales agent. In the fall of 2007, he opened a satellite office in Breckenridge, CO, which he managed for two years before returning to Utah to accept his current role as Director of Sales. Michael has traveled extensively and looks forward to developing VacationRoost as one of the finest customer service driven companies in the industry.
Before his tenure at VacationRoost Michael worked in the fine dining industry in Maui, Vail and Martha’s Vineyard. He was general manager of the restaurant Balance for three years in the town of Oak Bluffs, MA. Before his days as a restaurateur, Michael spent three years serving in the United States Army in the communications field. He spent two years in Germany as part of his tour. After his Army days, Michael studied Biology and English at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, GA.
Michael brings over 20 years of customer service and sales training to VacationRoost. His greatest passion is his wife and two children. Michael enjoys snowboarding, golf, camping and traveling the world. View full bio.
Board of Directors
Rob Michalik, Chairman – Board of Directors
Rob is a founder and Managing Director of Kinderhook Industries, a $700 million private equity firm based in New York City. Rob and his partners have completed more than 75 Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Finance transactions, investing more than $1 billion throughout their investment careers, and have partnered with Castles Media to build VacationRoost. Rob is also a Director of Raleigh Cycle Ltd., Perrin Manufacturing Company, Lodis Accessories, Inc., EAM Corporation and Trubiquity.
Cor Carruthers, Director
Cor is a Managing Director at Kinderhook Industries and has had a distinguished career in investment banking and private equity. Cor played a key role in getting VacationRoost started through the acquisition of OTravel in 2007. Cor also serves on the Board of Directors of KN Rubber, Nurse-On-Call and Mastro's Restaurants.
Elan Blutinger, Director
Elan has led the successful launch, IPO, and sale of two well-known travel companies: Travel Services International and ResortQuest International. He subsequently was a Director at Hotels.com and chaired the special committee that sold the company to IAC/ InterActiveCorp. He is currently a Director of Great Wolf Resorts.
Michael Sands, Director
Michael is the CEO of BrightTag, an innovative technology company in the online marketing space. Michael has a strong history in the online travel space as one of the founders and senior executives at Orbitz Worldwide. He served as Chief Marketing Officer from the company's formation, launch, and IPO. He then was COO following the company's sale to Cendant in 2004 through its spin off to Blackstone in 2006. Previously, he held senior marketing positions at General Motors, Giant Step, and Leo Burnett. A career marketing executive, Michael advised United Airlines during the launch of UAL.com.
Jim Armstrong - Director
A successful and experienced early-stage venture investor across a
variety of enterprise and consumer-facing technology companies, Jim has
established himself as a leading investor and company builder in
Southern California. Since joining Clearstone early in its formation,
Jim has applied his strong management skills, communication skills,
market knowledge and industry contacts to help the companies in which
Clearstone invests deliver a strong record of venture performance. Jim's
work is focused on information technology investments, with particular
interest in application software, information management and security
and Internet-enabled businesses. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, Jim was
recognized as one of the top 100 Venture Capitalists in the United
States by Forbes Magazine’s annual Midas List.
Rishi Nigam - Director
Rishi is vice president of Global Strategies and Business Planning for Group RCI in Parsippany, N.J., where he is responsible for charting the long-term strategy for the vacation rental and exchange division of Wyndham Worldwide. Rishi has been VP at RCI LLC in various Global and Strategic Development roles and is an Honarary Trustee at The Annie Tinker Association for Women.
Julian Castelli, Director and CEO
Julian is the founder and CEO of VacationRoost and also serves as a director on the company’s Board of Directors. As an experienced online media executive, Julian has served as a senior executive for a $300 million media company – Primedia Inc, and a $1 billion public telecom company – PageNet, Inc. Julian currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Matchbin Inc., an online media and technology company based in Salt Lake City.