A Chat with Adam Edgell-Bush from Homyze

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I caught up with Adam from Homyze, based out of London. Adam was previously COO and Principal of a leading London residential property developer. It was whilst working with this developer that Adam observed the lack of any relationship between prices and the quality of work. Determined to change this, he founded Homyze with Andrew.

Whilst working on projects across London, Adam and Andrew were constantly asked by friends to refer a good plumber or carpenter. As property obsessives, Adam and Andrew were only too happy to help. They know what it is like to get your dream home. Or how annoying it can be if something is just not quite right.

When following up to make sure that they were happy with the work that had been done, Adam and Andrew realised that this was what the home services and construction industries were sorely lacking: quality customer service.

Quality tradespeople and good quality customer service were introduced and they got on fabulously. One thing led to another, and Homyze was born. We're really proud of what Homyze has done so far... she's growing up so fast but this is just the beginning. We know she will change the way in which people think about getting help with their home.

Watch our interview in two parts or read the transcript below:

Part 1:

Part 2:
Gen: Hey everyone. Today I'm live here at Fishburners with Adam from Homyze. 
Adam: Exciting.
Gen: Who the hell are you? 
Adam: Well, funny you should ask. I'm Adam Edgell-Bush. I'm CEO and Founder of Homyze. We are based in the UK.
Gen: I've been saying Homes. Bit weird though, so Homyze. (Pronounced Homies) 
Adam: It's alright. People have said worse things. Actually one of our customers came up with Home Wise; which I thought was particularly inventive.
Gen: That is.
Adam: I haven't adopted it yet. She may have patented since, so ... 
Gen: Grab any opportunity you can get.
Adam: Yeah, we've been called all sorts of things.
Gen: Is that from your service, or because what your brand name says. 
Adam: Well, yeah, this was as close as we could get to how one would normally spell Homyze and still get .com. Just [crosstalk 00:00:48] another conversation entirely. So, I am originally Australian. I guess I still am Australian, but have been living in London for quite a few years, and am now focused on bringing Homeys to us. 
Gen: Awesome, and having to ... what did the first couple of months look like from launch in London?
Gen: Cold.
Adam: Yeah,  [crosstalk 00:01:16] so we launched now about two years ago. Literally two years ago to almost this day.
Gen: No way. Congrats. Roughly happy anniversary day. 
Adam: At the time, I guess, we were kind of like everyone else. Stuck up the site; waited for people to just go on and look. 
Gen: Turn up.
Adam: Yeah, and then  [crosstalk 00:01:39] realize that doesn't happen.
Gen: They don't just come?
Adam: Yeah. Obviously, the solution that we were providing was something that the market had been crying out for and word of mouth.
Gen: Someone to like-
Adam: Permeate very quickly, we'd go viral-
Gen: So you'd be Facebook overnight, that's the benchmark we are looking for here.
Adam: Without all kind of political feud or all others think. And then we kind of got things functioning, started from a mostly digital marketing perspective. We actually launched as an app so we launched as two apps actually; one for our tradespeople, one for our customers. I guess I should probably say what Homeys does. 
Gen: Oh yes, what do you do?
Adam: We are for ease of explanation, Uber for tradespeople. So if you need someone to come and fix a usually acute issue with your home, then you can at the tap of a button summon them. All of our guys are the best at what they do, transparent pricing, very responsive market, and hopefully great customer service.
Gen: From your experience with starting with an app or apps, rather than doing site first, would you change that or would you do it?
Adam: Yes. I don't need to hesitate. I guess more for me there was a degree of friction, which we just didn't need. So, if people want a problem solved, you know we are highlighting timeliness as one of our key usps and having to download an app, go through registration inevitably, and book. That is not the most timely and immediate means of fulfilling their need.
Gen: Also, if you are trying to make changes to the app, you can't get it live...
Adam: Yeah, like Apple is much better than they were at the time, but even the fact that you would get held up in approval for like a week; and if there was a somewhat critical fix, that was kind of a disaster. We found out one great piece of PR in The Guardian in the UK and getting all these downloads and realized there was like a massive bug that would stop the engine. So, now they are much better, but even having said that our app is used for retention and we are repositioning it at the moment not to get activation. Everyone needs an app; it's kind of me as a new entrant into the tech space had jumped into me. Maybe that's not true; and I think to be honest app as a form factor is changing quite considerably. Obviously the first iteration is just mobile responsive pages, but we are going to see a lot more. [inaudible 00:04:45]
Gen: That's awesome. So what did the first two, what did the two years look like? [inaudible 00:04:52]
Adam: We launched with a slightly undefined user segment. My co-founder and I come from property as a background so we were able to anything from provisioning a trades person to fix a leaky tap through to someone wanting to do a double basement and refurbish a house in Mayfair. 
Gen: Did you think about [inaudible 00:05:27] every time you say Mayfair?
Adam: I do. I realize it is a city monopoly. Oh so Mayfair is the most expensive property. They're like no it's not it's like Martin Place or something.
Gen: Probably.
Adam: [inaudible 00:05:48]
Adam: So the paying point for us was the same. There has to be a better way of getting work done to your home. Part of that is solved by having an efficient process and part of that is solved by educating people or allowing them to feel like they can educate themselves without being at the mercy of the trades people.
Gen: Yep.
Adam: When we launched we were originally going to do a 3D visualization of your homes. We were using at the time Google's Project Tango, which has since been retired or morphed into Core IR and people would be able to get this 3D model of their home, play with it themselves, see what the cost and time impacts of the things they wanted to do were. Then they could at least educate themselves that way before they spoke to someone. I think most people are familiar, who have done this for bigger jobs, with the idea that they can say, "Okay, I want to spend a few thousand dollars." They will get a quote for 70,000 and they'll get a quote for 200,000 and no one will ever quote for what they want to spend. Even the variability between quotes A and B is just crazy; and they're reasons, like have they assumed the same things? Is one of them just really busy and doesn't really want the job so he's like, "I'll do the job if you pay me 200,000." 
Adam: All of this kind of inefficiency or noise was something that we were trying to remove. As I said we launched with that and then we still have that going as Homies. We've changed it to something called Price Meister which is less of the 3D visualization, more of the just price and time impacts because we are a start-up with limited resources and intellectual bandwidth. The marketplace side of things, which is what we call the provisioning trades people on command or in the near term, has grown very quickly. We did about three months of pushing the app, pushing for installs. Then throughout landing pages, which gave us an initial boost, fairly significant boost, then added the ability for people to book themselves on the web pages and pull, which again gave us another boost. For the first...
Gen: You followed the users then, right?
Adam: Yeah, we listened, we like to think we listened. If it's not working...
Gen: You like to think you did.
Adam: I think everyone says they do, but I think you always kind of say, well I'm listening, and sometimes I think I know better and sometimes it's like okay. It's more a case of if you're not getting the grades you want, then you try something else. Part of it is active listening and part of it is just experimenting. Then we had the kind of traditional, from a load base, 25 to 75% month to month growth. We have been very much concentrating, this is now about a year ago, very much for the last year concentrating on getting that marketplace functioning. So, it's always in imbalance; marketplaces generally are. 
Gen: The joys of supply and demand.
Adam: Got more of one than we need, less of the other, vice versa, but we are now pushing along. It's never perfectly matched, but it's pretty well matched. Now we are in the UK focusing on developing Price Meister further so that we can give people more of what we are assuming, until they prove us otherwise, looking for. As I said, duplicating some of what we do, but in a slightly different way to the Australian market on the marketplace side.
Gen: And why Australia? Is it because you have a strong affinity here?
Adam: Yeah, you know exactly, take a look outside. It's a similar sort of market in that there is a lot of non-resident homeowners. Absent or not landlords that have investment properties that need to be taken care of. 
Gen: [inaudible 00:10:24] uses of Air BNB's as well hopefully.
Adam: Quite, so we work with a number of Air BNB management platforms in London and they have come over here and so they have guttered our customers up.
Gen: Test, screw some things up, and pave the way for you.
Adam: Yes, we'd like to move in constant with some into other markets, but you know they have stayed so there is that sort of market here. Very much to your point, wherever the Air BNB works we think we can [inaudible 00:11:04] for different reasons.
Gen: So where you've gotten to, what are sort of key in economics you guys are watching closely to make sure that you can continue to grow?
Adam: So I guess our acquisition costs is first and foremost. Now, it's a very competitive space as I'm sure I know other industries are, but everyone says about their own. We compete against...
Gen: It's not free!
Adam: No, I'm looking for that market.
Gen: Hey, Google will accept credits. Million dollars a month. 
Adam: The information that Google has to use to it's own advantage is another conversation.
Gen: Crazy.
Adam: The cost of getting customers through the door is for us obviously an extremely important point. What we look at is probably a triumvirate of metrics, which is that the number of bookings that each customer will make by channel, and then the average cost of a job that those customers do. So between those three we work out whether we have [inaudible 00:12:18] as a company and then we have secondary metrics, which are the efficiency of the market operation. For us, we pride ourselves on delivering a great service. We think that translates into how often people will book us again, once they have experienced using Home Use. Then where our sweet spot is in terms of the science of jobs is another thing.[inaudible 00:12:49]
Gen: Watching it of course. From watching all those metrics, have you seen any major changes with any, not to say quick wins, but I mean you find that one little nugget that kind of changes the game a bit?
Adam: That's a good question. So we were in a slightly unfortunate situation because we launched doing both big and small jobs. Before we worked that out we had some quite big jobs so our revenues were really high. Now, they were much more labor intensive and we made the business decision not to focus on them. So, we actually have a downtick in our revenues in our very early days. I'd have to say we have realized the benefit of outreach and partnership with companies much more as a continuous source of business and a richer vein of customers; we'll call them partners. Thankfully it kind of gets us away from the Google side of things. It also means that they have a greater familiarity of what is good in this industry and we would always like to consider that we exceed expectations, but they have a more relevant frame of reference.
Gen: That is unfortunately one of the positions a [inaudible 00:14:21] places end up in is when they get into that rhythm of I have to keep spending money just to get new users each month to kind of force the marketplace to work without really understanding the detail of [inaudible 00:14:32] what the existing market is doing. Is there something viable there? Do you use any tools to measure all of this sort of stuff or make these judgment calls? Or is it purely gut? Or what's...how do you do it?
Adam: We probably do not use enough, it's such an important point. For us, we are very much at the mercy of how our trades people act "in the wild", in the market. They are a face-to-face touch point for us with the customer. In that regard, if they have a bad experience, then it reflects poorly upon us. Now, best way of avoiding that happening, or getting them to be more consistent adopters of the Homyze ethos is to keep giving them business. Sometimes unfortunately, in the early stages particularly, you have to make a decision to say, look, every customer isn't going to be profitable, but we need to start feeding these guys work to get them engaged and get them feeling confident that they can use Homyze for getting the vast majority of their business and then they'll protect that revenues.
Gen: Do you use...obviously besides Tammy...do you use Google Analytics, AutoPilot, Clockwork, like what are the tools that you use? 
Adam: So, we use Google Analytics a lot. We have opened it up to a few people at various points and we have a pretty idiosyncratic, I guess is maybe the nice way of putting it, but we have a very robust tracking frame, Ircon GA. We used to use AutoPilot; we actually switched away from them. Not that there's anything wrong with them, they are a very cost effective provider. 
Gen: Just ignore now.
Adam: We are revisiting our email automation and customer engagement. Our chat actually is powered by RCRM. We have used another email automation provider, which I won't mention the names, but to be honest they made AutoPilot look great. 
Gen: Wow, fair enough.
Adam: And I think they are a fantastic service.
Gen: And you guys used Segment, didn't you?
Adam: We did use Segments.
Gen: [inaudible 00:16:56]bunch of start-ups and you're getting started, growing what [inaudible 00:17:00]print didn't work for you?
Adam: We've tried a lot of things. So, we were on things like Mixed Panel and Kiss Metrics when we were more app focused which... 
Gen: Hey, and we're back. Mixed panel, use segments, changing a lot, saving integration costs.
Adam: Yeah, so we are constantly trying things. Those that work, we keep. Those we don't, we kick. Even having said that, but by virtue of how we've changed our tools as a company. Some of those have worked and not. Segment is something that we used a lot more with more integrations, just because it makes it that much easier. At the moment, we are probably a bit analytical light in some regards. At the moment, it's a fairly query based, manual process for going through sight logs for some things, and otherwise GA forms. Most of what we use on a daily basis.
Gen: For a start up who's starting today, and wants to be global from day one, what do you think are the core tools that they should be considering to those services, in a market place context?
Adam: Yeah, I guess we are slightly different in that we have a much more physical component to our operations. I was going to say, if you're looking to be global, consider an entirely digital solution. It's probably best. Look at Canvas, such an amazing. Sidney start up, by its very nature, is globally applicable. I don't know how much the best practices permeate to Australia, so this is one of the things I've been interested to find out while I'm here. I think things that are fairly location agnostic, things like Sigmund and Century and AWS, obviously, which allows you to use the local service.
Now we have only just discovered the benefit of local provisioning on service. To be honest, I just think, globally is so inherent these days. I don't think anyone is starting a business assuming they want to do something quite small. We didn't know how quickly we would launch internationally, but we definitely assume that we would move internationally. Things like multi-currency, things like [Stripe Bribe 00:02:56] that can handle payments in many different systems.
Gen: [Strap Atlas 00:03:00] is [inaudible 00:03:01] up to launch anywhere. Bank account is amazing [inaudible 00:03:05].
Adam: The web's worldwide.
Gen: Not that interweb thing. What's your team culture like? To be able to move to that pace, go international in two years, what's it like?
Adam: It's lean, it's [inaudible 00:03:23]. We had always liked to think that we're a small team doing the work of a fairly large one. I would say that I come from a finance background, and generally, it's fairly staffed by, provided by overachievers, alpha types.
Gen: Do you all but heads eventually then?
Adam: Oh yeah. Part of it is exactly what people think it is, but people are fairly autonomous and fairly motivated. That's definitely something that I have tried to carry into start up world, because I think it's probably even more important there. It wasn't a highly managerial culture. I now, as someone that is supposed to be leading by example, for example, and I'm fermenting a team culture ...
Gen: Yet you're here, lounging around, having a chat [crosstalk 00:04:22] the street.
Adam: I work a 24 hour day now. That's the plus and the minus of ...
Gen: Yeah, [inaudible 00:04:28].
Adam: Yeah. It is literally the opposite end of the world. I think the old adage that the, you know, the parades their principal of 20% of people doing 80% of the work, thankfully that's not true within our company, but it does highlight that when you get the right people, they can do so much more.
Gen: What's the construct between [inaudible 00:04:51] engineers, sale [crosstalk 00:04:53]?
Adam: We are a split, half developers and half sales and operations, because they're so interlinked. We have myself and my co-founder, who are not directly deployed onto either of those two sides of the business.
Gen: How do you and your co-founder work together?
Adam: Again, start ups is such a journey. Like a marriage, you need to pick the right partner for it. I can't say enough good things about him.
Gen: Romance is real, is what you're saying?
Adam: Yeah. You need someone that calls you out when you need to be, whose opinion you value. Likewise, you'll hopefully provide the same for them. He comes from a construction background through and through. He was a property guy originally. Thankfully, that level of industry expertise, is something that I've been able to leverage hugely. I think it's what has allowed us day one to say, "Well, we know we're going to do property, we can do anything." It has allowed us to start taking on everything and knowing who to go to when [inaudible 00:06:20].
Gen: That's great. You guys looking to hire in the future, bringing other skill sets?
Adam: We are, we are. Disclaimer, anyone in Australia that wants to be a general manager, yes. We are setting up here. We've got one person signed. We've got all our trades people signed up. We have offers out to another person, but we are looking for senior hires.
Gen: Great. What does it look like? It's just that journey in London, trying to reach out to people, getting trades? How do you dip your toe in the water before you jump on a plane to Sidney? Is this the best way to scan all my business, [crosstalk 00:07:01]?
Adam: Again, market research was the first step for us. Then, it was having some initial conversations from a distance. We started interviewing from London and then first time Skype, audio or whatever, worked for them.
Gen: [crosstalk 00:07:20].
Adam: Yes, basically. Came over for second round interviews, which is why I'm here.
Gen: Not for this very important chat.
Adam: It was all based around this. That's why I'm here now, but that is why I'm here.
Gen: I'm glad you [inaudible 00:07:35] priority is right. Perfect. Where do you go to for your knowledge? Is there certain books that you keep reading? [inaudible 00:07:43] for it so you can keep up with the business? Is it mentors, podcasts? How do you keep learning?
Adam: It's everything. I was just listening to Masters of Scale podcast with Reid Hoffman. It's the Barry Diller one, where he's the constant learner. That's how I feel about it. I'm very much book oriented, so I read a ton. That and podcasts, I guess, are the biggest things for us. We are in a similar space work wise to [Fish Learners 00:08:25] in London. There are other people who are more advance, less advance than us, doing tangential, similar or totally unrelated industries that you can benefit from speaking to. I think inherent curiosity is something I think's really important and however you get that knowledge is [inaudible 00:08:50].
Gen: What are the best places to go in London for a co-working space or as a start up, just to get started?
Adam: I want to say we're at rework saturation point, but we're apparently not. Every margin of deal seems to be [rework 00:09:08] as their [inaudible 00:09:10]. I think a good one for learning from people around you and for having an inbuilt ecosystem, people having talks at rework, for example, it's great. I would say some people, with whom I've spoken, feel that it's a little less conducive for the next stage of growth, because you have more of those really young, keen, "Oh, I saw who you just raised," just constantly coming into your office or talking to you when you're on the floor. When you're in the zone, you don't want that happening. We've got quite a few. [Huckle Tree 00:09:54], Ugly, [crosstalk 00:09:58] ...
Gen: Google Campus.
Adam: Google Campus always puts on great events.
Gen: That [inaudible 00:10:06] is so saturated compared to Australia and Sidney, right?
Adam: It's crazy.
Gen: Yeah.
Adam: It's expensive, so it's factored into the price. Yeah, it's a very tight area. We're not actually in that part. We are in West London [inaudible 00:10:25]. It's nice to get both sides of it. I think as long as you basically stand in shortage [crosstalk 00:10:39].
Gen: Marketing to someone.
Adam: Yeah, exactly. [inaudible 00:10:41] or helpful results.
Gen: [inaudible 00:10:44] and I wasn't sure.
Adam: Yeah, ramen profit all around us.
Gen: It's the next start up.
Adam: We are inundated with ramen joints now.
Gen: I can imagine. Well that's awesome. I ask everyone this. If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
Adam: Start up related or not? Flying.
Gen: No.
Adam: Flying.
Gen: Yes! That's a good one.
Adam: As someone who's about to go on another 24 hour flight back, feeling control of that, I couldn't imagine. [inaudible 00:11:14].
Gen: Well thank you so much for you time. Really appreciate it and hope your [crosstalk 00:11:18] trip to Sydney goes well.
Adam: Yes, indeed. We will be speaking.
Gen: Bye gang, thank you.