1 How did you come up with idea?
My Partner (@facundov) and I started a web aghency in Dublin 5 years ago and incorporated in London in 2010. By doing that we literally created our own “web university”. Knowing very little ablut web project we we built a panel of designers and developers and learnt a lot about managing web projects, funded by clients 🙂
With that knowledge we wanted to launch our own startup around entrepreneurship and travel but didn’t know about the angle, until we saw that TechHub Riga members were sending messages to London members asking for a place to crash since they were coming to London for a pitch and meet investors. We realised we could solved that problem but at a global scale.
2 When and how did you set up your business. What was difficult and how
long did it take you?
We had learnt a lot in the web agency and had also just finished reading the Lean Startup and Running Lean so tried to apply everything we learnt. We were going to experiment but the model was already validated by a competitor, so we performed a few experiments like a survey, we put up a holding page so people that read about the concept would signup and show us the level of interest, we also opened a Twitter/Facebook account and blogged pretty often to spread the word. Finally I flew to Riga and Buenos Aires and stayed with entrepreneurs to analyse the experience and everything went really well. All this community building exercises led us to build the first prototype that took us 4 and a half months. We had clear what we wanted that’s why we didn’t release sooner.
3 How was your first day – after launch? Did it go as planned?
Our first day didn’t feel like a first day since we had been working on the prototype and the idea for more than 5 months. It was OK, we launched as invite only (and planning to stay like this) so the growth was very gradual and not viral. We planned for that.
4 When did you notice that your idea was successful and think this could
Our initial plan was to validate our main assumption as quick as possible: entrepreneurs in startups around the world are willing to network and stay with local entrepreneurs in their travel, versus paying for a hotel or AirBnB. We validated that in less than four weeks. All entrepreneurs still are extremely excited when they hear Startup Stay’s value proposition, however it’s also important to track behavious and it’s been fantastic and rewarding to see many entrepreneurs reaching out to other for accommodation and/or coffee.
5 What difficulties did you face in the process?
Too many 🙂 I can only mention a few for now, for example: how do you make members come back regularly especially when they don’t have a journey planned for the near future? How do you keep everyone as connected as possible, especially locals with other locals in each city?
There’s still a lot to sort out and hand-shaking to do to build a robust global community
6 Where do you see yourself in 2 years?
By year two, we should have already blossomed into a much bigger network with hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. We aim to change the way entrepreneurs travel around the world, sparking new friendships, collaborations and business opportunities while avoiding accommodation costs. We hope to reach 1 million face-to-face encounters
7 How does a typical work day look for you?
When you launch a startup and thinks don’t work, you’d spend your days iterating to make it work. However when you launch someting that works and immediately have users trying to join, plus press, you need to become very good at time management since too many things will seem to be urgent but they’re not.
Most of my day is behind my laptop doing front line work such as: replying to emails, customer service tickets, dealing with press/media, approving new members and emailing invite codes. And also business strategy work such as: Meeting with new entrepreneurs, members potential investors, conducting many Skype talks with members and potential partners, meeting online with my partner @Facundov in Dublin to analyse results of every iteration, sharpen the product roadmap, define next steps, go to pitch at events, etc.
The day has only 24 hours. It’s extremely key to manage well your time (and I’m not an expert at this) so you don’t end up wasting every valuable minute of the day. We hope to get investment soon and grow the team. We need it.
8 What would your advice be to others that are thinking of starting a
You need to first love the solution that you’re building and the segment you’re serving, otherwise, during tough times, it’d be very simple to give up because you wouldn’t care much.
Don’t go in alone. Find a cofounder to partner with. The chances that you could make it alone are very slim.