Simply seven months in the past the People Like Us house change community was nonetheless in beta launch. It had lower than 100 members and Drew Seitam, the founder (and solely individual engaged on the venture), was in search of methods to distinguish his new community. He constructed a system permitting individuals to create circles of associates who they trusted and with whom they might swap houses. Frankly, it was a venture I assumed wouldn’t final greater than a yr or two given the various residence change community already in existence.
Then a number of months later, proper concerning the time when Drew had solidified the essential performance on People Like Us, the mixing between HomeExchange.com and GuesttoGuest occurred (the brand new community known as HomeExchange). And much of former HomeExchange.com members have been very sad. Some have been so sad they began wanting round for brand spanking new networks to hitch. Enter Drew and his robust presence on Fb with a People Like Us group for each members and others eager about house trade. A couple of disgruntled HomeExchange.com members came upon about PLU and joined. They usually advised others. And in a number of weeks Drew went from 100 members to 1000 members.
I feel quite a bit of what attracts individuals to the PLU community is Drew himself. He spends quite a bit of time speaking to individuals. Asking them what they need, getting their enter on new options and concepts. He’s not afraid to precise an opinion, however he actually respects the enter of others. And as a small community with solely primary performance constructed thus far, he may be nimble and absorb all of the enter and regulate shortly. It’s been a tremendously profitable formulation. Disgruntled however skilled residence swappers providing their enter to assist create a community that represents precisely what they need.
A number of days in the past I talked with Drew concerning the previous few weeks and future of People Like Us.
People Like Us fills a niche
ShareTraveler: Initially you have been constructing a house trade community based mostly on the mannequin that folks might have personal circles of buddies with whom they swap. Is that this nonetheless a key function of PLU?
Drew: We solely spoke a month in the past and so many issues have modified. I used to be on the lookout for one thing new that was a very huge differentiator. You recognize, you’ve gotten these concepts as a begin up, however that, frankly, was a failure. Of my first hundred members, I feel two truly created personal networks, and neither of these truly used them. I created one personal community referred to as everybody and everyone joined that. Everyone was pleased. No one needed what I assumed they needed. I had a minor pivot to cease providing personal circles as a result of it was making issues complicated.
Going into this [HomeExchange merger] there was no hole out there, no place for somebody new to do one thing totally different. If everyone else is doing issues fairly properly it may be troublesome. Once I checked out GuesttoGuest and HomeExchange, that they had the market coated fairly nicely between them. The French firm was working in a really businesslike trend. Fairly company. And also you had the American company [HomeExchange.com] working extra on the left leaning sharing format. Within the merger they stored the identify of the left one and all the things else has gone to the enterprise and company aspect. To me that has left a niche the place there is a chance fill it.
ST: Why are you efficiently stepping in to the hole now as an alternative of the various different home swap networks?
Drew: There are so much of networks on the market however I barely hear about them. It might simply be the teams that I’m in and the dialogue that I hear.
In phrases of what I’ve finished, I don’t assume I’m doing so much totally different, its simply that perhaps now there’s extra of an viewers there to listen to what I’m saying. It’s fairly a easy type of factor: take heed to your members or clients and attempt to do what they need. You must stability that with what’s the perfect factor to do for the entire group since you might have very loud members who converse above everyone else. It’s fairly a democratic factor. There’s no rocket science, simply ask individuals and speak to them and attempt to be the most effective you might be.
We don’t must be the most important house change community to achieve success. However I would like us to be one of the best. The platform is essential however it’s method much less essential than the group that we’ve. I’ve tons of work to do on the platform, however we’ll reside and die on the power of our group and the members and the sensation we have now within the group.
ST: How would you differentiate PLU from different house change networks?
Drew: In phrases of one thing totally different within the platform, that’s one thing that I’ll nonetheless have to seek for. I have to do lots of work on the consumer expertise and can proceed to take action as I get time and funds to interact individuals different than simply me. However I nonetheless don’t see success coming from there. I see success from being a democratic agile, beneficiant, trusting group.
I learn your interview with Emmanuel, he’s a sensible man and I agree with him on rather a lot of what he says about house trade basically (clearly I disagree on some issues.) It’s troublesome to persuade individuals to attempt residence trade in the event that they’ve by no means finished it. I feel with promoting it’s subsequent to unimaginable to persuade individuals to attempt residence change. The factor that works is phrase of mouth; our members telling individuals you actually should do that as a result of it’s good, it’s one of the simplest ways to journey, it’s not nearly saving cash. That’s why I feel it’s so essential to take a position the time within the members. It may possibly solely come from planting the seed.
Lots of member enter
ST: You solicit quite a bit of enter out of your Fb members. Have you ever discovered something shocking from the enter individuals are providing?
Drew: I wasn’t stunned in any respect by the eagerness that folks have for house change. What stunned me was the willingness to assist me. Once I’ve requested for assist individuals have come out of the woodwork to supply all types of assist. Assist in promotions, UX, writing for magazines, I used to be given a spot in a print journal within the U.S. I’ve had individuals supply to run the running a blog aspect of the enterprise. I’ve obtained an individual who had referred to as a dozen totally different organizations in Europe to work on a construction for the group that may be interesting to the members. Since I met her solely two weeks in the past it looks like she’s been working as lengthy hours as I’ve.
It’s superb. It’s fantastic. I can’t say thanks sufficient to those individuals. Fairly aside from all of the little issues individuals have accomplished contacting others to inform them about us and providing to be ambassadors for the location to market it of their sphere of affect. That’s been variety of shocking and I’m tremendously grateful for it.
ST: You talked about including in a points-based swap choice to PLU (which you determined to name “Moons”) in your Fb group. Is that also within the works?
Drew: All of this speak about factors, that was a very fascinating train. I nonetheless consider within the concept of factors. One of our members stated: don’t get distracted by this now, an important issues is to be sure that the search is sweet and members are glad and other people can discover what they should discover. I feel that is proper, so we’re going to place this apart in the meanwhile and I’m going to focus on different issues and make enhancements that basically must be accomplished instantly quite that one thing that’s optionally available.
Whereas there have been individuals who didn’t, the grand majority of individuals agreed with the thought of factors. I canvased the thought of charging for factors and that went down very poorly and I can see why. I’m grateful that I’ve the philosophy of asking individuals so I don’t do issues like that. I heard what they stated and I acknowledge why it was a nasty concept. We’ll do our moons during the longer term.
The longer term of PLU
ST: How’s it going as a one-man present with a day job?
Drew: I’m not getting lots of sleep. It’s been fairly loopy. I’m getting up very early within the morning and doing so much of stuff. I’ve been on vacation for a couple of weeks however now I’ve come again to work. I work for an additional firm in the course of the day. I work on the practice each methods. My spouse and household is fantastic and really forgiving. I’ve been attending to mattress about 2am and it’s fairly robust.
I have to get it to the purpose the place it’s a sustainable operation and its sufficiently priceless to our members to pay one thing for it. We floated a payment in November; we acquired four individuals who paid it complete. To achieve success it has to cost a charge. And it has to cost one thing which is commensurate with the worth that it brings to our members. We will’t cost a HomeExchange fashion charge once we’re a lot smaller than them. I’ll in all probability re-introduce a charge for a verification service or one thing else that’s optionally available however has worth in itself. I’ll have a charge for positioning on the location. Issues like that which individuals don’t should pay for however they will in the event that they need to they usually don’t disrupt the spirit of the location.
ST: What are your quick plans for creating new options?
Drew: It’s rather more on making the product extra usable greater than something. As a result of of all of the dialogue I’m making an attempt to phase my time into half speaking to individuals and half engaged on stuff.
I launched within the final week a quantity of issues that folks had requested for round with the ability to put themselves into sure teams. We did an LGBTQ+ group so individuals can discover people who find themselves pleasant. One member had a narrative about arriving in a location with his husband they usually weren’t permitted entry as a result of he was homosexual and so he stated we should have one thing like that. I completely agree with him. One little function that took me lower than a day to do makes an enormous distinction to an element of the group and I really like that.
I’m engaged on methods to categorize properties to assist individuals discover issues they’re in search of like accessibility and property varieties. I need to do lots of privateness enhancements. I’m going to utterly partition what individuals present in order that they’ll have the ability to disguise pictures or elements of their descriptions. This has the added constructive that it makes individuals want to hitch the location and activate their itemizing to have the ability to see these issues. There are an entire bunch of little issues that I need to do. I’ll come again to moons in the course of cautious dialogue with my members.
ST: Do you could have any considerations concerning the speedy progress of the community?
Drew: Nothing considerations me about it per se, I’m simply all the time very cautious of managing progress. We’ve all seen tales of corporations who’ve grown too quick and never been capable of handle it. I had sufficient foresight to arrange my platform on a particularly good backend that may simply scale. The one concern is maintaining with it. To do that correctly it has to generate a income in order that even I can do that full time, not to mention pay for individuals who will help us market it and proceed the event at a great tempo. The one concern I’ve there’s attending to the stage the place it’s helpful sufficient to have the ability to cost one thing for it.
The People Like Us values
ST: Inform me concerning the core values of PLU?
Drew: You will get an excellent reply on that by taking a look at our Fb group description. I requested that query on the group. I needed to make a values assertion about who we’re and what we consider in, what distinguishes us from everyone else. Who we’re as a group. It was fantastic. I used to be asking for phrases that describe us. I took within the dialogue and wrote a paragraph that’s the description of the Fb group and most of that’s on the about web page on the location.
It’s all about belief, generosity, kindness, generosity and sharing. And enjoyable issues like journey. It’s individuals who need to be good to one another. Within the identify of journey of course. It’s core human values.
ST: Anything you need to say?
Drew: I’m working day and night time to do one of the best I can probably do and to honor the belief and the hope that individuals are placing in PLU in the mean time. It’s an enormous factor and I carry that very respectfully. They’ve seemed for a spot to go. I need to ensure that what I do for them is the very absolute best that I can do. And once they’re sad with one thing that I’ve carried out the platform is open they usually can inform me about it.