A Chat with Billy Crock from Hometime

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Gen caught up with Billy Crock, founder of Hometime.

Hometime features step-by-step information to home improvement, remodeling, and repair. Projects include decks, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, landscaping, gardening, plumbing, electrical, flooring, home workshop, and more.

Watch the video here or look below to read the transcript:


G: Hi guys, it's Gen George from Tamme and today I'm here at WeWork with Billy from Hometime.

B: Hey guys! How are you?

G: Who are you?

[Laughter]

B: Thanks Gen. Maybe I’ll push this …

G: I think this is actually working.

[Laughter]

B: …Yeah, awesome!

G: Oh, no, no, no! It’s all about you today.

B: We've had a few difficulties getting the live feed working, but I think we’re up and running. Thanks everyone for having a listen, yeah. Yeah, my name is Billy Crock, I'm one of the founders at Hometime. We're an Airbnb property management platform operating in Sydney and Melbourne.

G: …this way…

B: Sure.

G: …yeah.

[Laughter]

B: Yeah, I guess most people are familiar with Airbnb and the sort of the opportunities and the gains that you can have by renting out rooms and apartments and houses and lots of stuff. And most people also are probably aware of the pain points that come along with that, most obviously the kind of cleaning and the housekeeping and all that sort of stuff. And then probably more recently as everybody's matured and into a full marketplace, there's obviously a competitive forces and stuff that are going on so the kind of battle for occupancy and revenue generation and lots of stuff are also there, so they're all the things that Hometime tackles I guess.

G: That’s awesome and how'd you guys get started?

B: Well, yeah so back in the day …

[Laughter]

… energy startup and my co-founder Dave was, you know, an analyst in finances. He went and got married in Zimbabwe of all places and so it kind of prompted a bit of a you know extended holiday over there. I was renting my place out on Airbnb and relying on friends to kind of take care of the logistics of the whole lot you …

[Laughter]

Yeah, exactly … portfolio …you know momma's hand-me-down sheets and all that … yeah, exactly, yeah, not a part of the polished product … we might have today. Dave was also doing the same and obviously we had a lot of conversations over there, a few, few beers has the stuff on we you know you're always looking for sort of business opportunities and that and so this is probably 2015, it may be is going for seven years at this stage but it's pretty early penetration into Australia.

G: Isn’t it surprising you would think of this startup …starts right, these tech giants that they …

B: Yeah!

G: … overnight success … seven years in 2015…

B: Yeah that's right.

G: … 10 years now.

B: Yeah that's right, that's right. So yeah it's a definitely a … it takes a little bit longer than everyone thinks.

G: Yeah.

[Laughter]

B: So yeah, I guess we were like okay, cool, this this is obviously a trend that's really taking off and along with that there’s going to be need for kind of like supporting services…

G: Yeah.

B: And it didn't take too long to “okay cool,” you know, “growth of the a Airbnb is going nuts,” and then we looked abroad to the U.S. and Europe and we saw a couple of startups that were, you know, probably just six months into their journey but were doing cool things, had raised some capital were tackling and tackling things with a kind of technology angle…

G: Yeah.

B: …and we thought, yeah, that's kind of, you know, that's the validation that we need so let's, you know let's roll the dice and Australia was already a good market in that Sydney and Melbourne were both kind of highly adopting Airbnb cities…

G: Yep.

B: …and so you know market and industry is fairly raw, validation overseas yeah, cool, there's the resignation letter and, and let's get started sort of things…

G: Great!

B: …so yeah, I mean…

G: A people struggle with that concept well I suppose going through that period of going at what point do I hand in that resignation letter? Do you get started first? Do you just cut…

B: Yeah

G: …ties? How did you guys approached that?

B: Well, it was interesting because David I approached a completely differently. So I came back from Africa and Africa is an amazing place because there's not the kind of career infrastructure that …

G: Yes.

B: …in most of the western world and so everyone is kind of like a born hustler you know like everyone's a business owner or they're trying something different so I was just like wow, you know like, if these people can do it over there you know with the resources that they have, I think I can definitely do it here. So I got back, literally firstl week back from the trip after being two-and-a-half months away, there goes that letter and I'll just figure it out.

G: Yeah, yeah.

B: And that was awesome and David…then… being financially minded, was like I'll keep my job and I'll just you know moonlight and get some, get some progress before we, before we hand in the resignation and it was, it was great like you know to throw yourself wholly into it…

G: Yes.

B: …and I really love doing that…

G: Yeah.

B: …but I was also surprised at how productive Dave was, whilst holding down his, his full time job so yeah I mean there's a lot of ways to skin a cat…

G: Yes.

B: But I would suggest at least do the research before you quit your job right, like one good thing you know, while you're at work you know, you’re at lunch or even you know a spare a couple of hours after or before and just, just research on industry to the nines…

G: Yeah.

B: …just go as far as you can and the other thing that was really important just to reach out to people right so something that was really awesome process, we shot up the LinkedIn messages to some of these businesses in the US and Europe and we got responses from these founders, you know…

G: Yeah.

B: “Hey cool,” yeah, like, this is you know, “love to connect” and next thing we have a video call going on and you're getting a real life insight into what your life's going to be like…

G: Yeah.

B: …you know, six months down the track or whatever it might be so that was fantastic and we had some really good collaborative relationships with those guys over there, we still have those…

G: Yeah.

B: …and in our industry, it’s, it's been kind of dynamic, there's been a few pivot that's all around the place…

G: Yeah.

B: …and so …now would have kind of get the phone and people are like, “Wow, so you just raised” or “So you just change the business model,” “Why?” You know, “What are the factors?” And, it's being awesome for us to kind of learn…

G: Yeah.

B: …from, so yeah, that was excellent so…

G: It's great, I mean corroboration, especially anything from technically competitive future competitors right, you haven't even started yet!

B: Yeah, that’s…

G: How do you explain that mindset? That sort of…

B: It's interesting I think all the founders or, you know, globally and in new markets and it doesn't really matter what you're doing…

G: Yeah.

B: …you're doing something new and…

G: Yep.

B: …in west, in somewhere where you are and not many people understand what you're doing, yeah, the thing is still going! [Laughter] not many people understand it so if they, if someone, you know clued on and interested, reached out to them and is interested in hearing their story and it's like generally like wanting to learn they know, and you're good at this like, putting out the positive …positive energy and your collaborative kind of face on…

G: Yep.

B: …only kind of brings it back in spades right, so I think they, there’s just this is kind of understanding amongst like entrepreneurs that information sharing is crucial to anyone’s success.

G: Yeah.

B: And so you know even if these guys from Australia are probably don't seem to be you know, offering a lot to me right now, you know, all…

G: They could be a future acquisition.

B: Exactly

G: Future merger.

B: Exactly…

G: …whatever.

B: …all those kind of things so they go “cool, okay I'll keep those guys…” you know…

G: Yeah.

B: …”feed them a few bits of … nuggets and…” you know, probably nothing.

G: Yeah.

B: But it was great because you know as you know that you're looking for that kind of, you're looking for that validation that's started you know, “how did you guys started?”, you're like because we're all, you know we had a marketplace, basically we started as a marketplace as well so like…

G: Yeah.

B: …yeah the same things, “Which side did you see?” Like, “How did you get…” You know, “Would it be…” It was at supply side first, demand… you just have so many questions…

G: Yeah.

B: …and so they just go, “Cool…” You know, “…in our place, this is what we do.” Anyway, so they provided that validation as I said and we were like, “Cool,” let's move forward. We spoke to them and then the next kind of step was basically getting that… what sort of part of the other ecosystem are we going to tackle…

G: Yeah.

B: …so a lot of Airbnb, it’s just, you know property management basically and you can expand it to broader real estate property management so it's a massive space and there's a lot of little verticals that you can take on. We decided at the start that you know, we probably didn't want, necessarily own, like peoples’ house and be unresponsible for those… responsibility at the time and there's also the time when there's you know on-demand cleaning companies like Handy and stuff for doing ….

G: Yeah… Whizz… Tidyme

B: Exactly, popped up, Tidyme and that sort of thing and we saw those ones overseas and we saw the ones that did well and the ones that did not so well and it was that really kind luck, the ones that were first on those niche…

G: Yeah.

B: …and …it was … like a real estate niche or it was maybe, you know a plumbing or a housekeeping whatever might've been…

G: Yeah.

B: …and we thought we could be the niche for Airbnb services and, and it makes sense right, like a domestic cleaning platform, people … like have this clean once a week maybe once every two weeks, etc.

G: Yep.

B: And Airbnb properties getting cleaned every like three or four days, right, you have a smaller sort of market size but a high-volume …and valuable…

G: Yes.

B: …market. So but cool you know, metrics here look right…

G: Yeah.

B: …let's, let's go and so yeah we… Dave and I lacked the kind of… we needed like the technical co-founder so we found, yeah, a developer from the advertising space and you know we really, before, before we even got him onboard, we were doing it through Gumtree and all those kind of like hacks you know, like…

G: Yeah.

B: …we didn't know much about cleaning so we're out there you know finding cleaning companies, working with them you know just the basic stuffs that lets you understand what's going on and the same time we embedded ourselves in Airbnb community.

G: Yeah.

B: I’m thinking Airbnb obviously did very well, is they foster a great community and all their markets so there's a Sydney host group…

G: Great.

B: …straight in there you know, didn’t take us too long to become the leaders of the Sydney host community…

G: Great.

B: …and we have a lot of meetups and a lot of all sorts of stuff and got awesome kind of feedback from host…

G: Yeah.

B: …stuff and so we started kind of very simply with just you know taking kind of a quick website and taking kind of like email and phone requests for these, these jobs and in fact we’d host a meet-up and people be like, “Hey I've got a booking in this time…” and that’s the stuff and we just write it down…

G: Yeah.

B: and “Sure, well figure it out” and then just sourcing cleaners from Gumtree and then it took us about probably three months to build an MVP and get that launched…

G: Yep.

B: …and that was at most just a customer-facing booking site right

G: Yeah.

B: …and, and then from there … this is in August 2015 and we got instant traction really quickly, that was a big, sort of whole of the market because you really needed cleaners with a high attention to detail…

G: Yes.

B: …it's all about presentation when it comes to guests and hotel… and that sort of stuff, you know.

G: Especially with that rating is reflected on the owner, not say the cleaner as well.

B: Exactly, yeah. I mean you come home to your, your own cleaner and maybe they haven't moved the vase and wiped under it and you don't really care, but when your guests come into a home like you, you kind of …standard just jump up by your ….and then, and then you know it's a, it's a kind of, as you said the ratings … system feeds all back into the performance about listing…

G: Yeah.

B: …and so you got to a nail it, right. So, so yeah we kind of, it took a little while to get that kind of, I guess …it's like the service heavy business right. It’s, it’s relying on humans, it's very operational, there's a tech layer that can manage all that but you know when it comes to the end of the day, it's someone who's doing that work.

G: Yeah.

B: So there was a, it took us a while to get our operating model right and finding the right housekeepers for example, determine what services …really exactly offer like …with a linen service, etc. Anyway, fast forward, got that under control, it was really like you know we were fortunate we made a few mistakes and then we found the part the part of the kind of supply market that really worked well and that was hotel housekeepers that are really highly trained.

G: Yes.

B: But they don't have a lot of flexibility in their workplace, all of them are students, the moms and that sort of stuff and they desire that and it's not a great environment, they start at 5 in the morning and that's the thing. So we started … attract a few of those people onto our platform and they didn't take long really, they just kept coming.

G: Yeah.

B: This is a way better situation to work for…

G: Absolutely, yeah.

B: …than some of those big hotels and at the same time we're getting really highly trained people on our books and they're doing a fantastic job and our customers are stoked, awesome, so that that side is sort of taken care of and then in… August, you know, you’re right leading on for the kind of summer peak period where everyone's going away and the demand, like naturally… have a good tailwind and so yeah the adoption was really good just through the, the Airbnb network, the word got out and then it started to go into like b2b kind of arrangements so there's a lot of property managers around … and you know they're focusing on a lot of different things in the last thing that can really get to is how to scale their cleaning business you know, and most, most of them had their own in-house cleaners right and this is also a place that at least was kind of…

G: Yeah.

B: …playing it a little bit out, really attending to the real estate companies and so then we were just tailoring to the short term property management companies kind of thing, and, and they loved it so like, oh cool… like this big headache, you know like “I’ve got to scale…” you know “…from three people to 40 people every summer to play” you know, it's hard to do, I don't have a tech to do it, etc.

G: All the management…

B: Yeah.

G: The stress level.

[Laughter]

B: Yeah, exactly. “I'm getting abused by someone who's just arrived and I’ve got to clean their house so I don’t have the time...”

G: Yeah.

B: …to do that”, you know, “can you, can you guys please do this? Another time we’ll call Kayla.” Kayla actually is their housekeeper company and so anyway all these, all these property management companies jumped onboard and we just drowned in volume, it was pretty scary…

G: Yeah.

B: … you know we're coming up to sort of Christmas and new years and we've been, you know like a record day …”Oh in August we had a job every day of the week!”, like “Wow! How cool is that?” you know.

G: Yeah.

B: And then we're doing like 50 jobs a night or in one day, barely like sort of four months later and we're just like inundated and it's super stressful but we got through it which is which is really cool and obviously you know, fine January there’s a little bit of alleviation you know, crazy peak period passes but you do get awesome kind of, it's like a scattergun approach of this exposure so even though, you know property management companies are sort of… they’re our clients but clients coming back to a home and Kayla at the time or Hometime had serviced, and they’re like, “Wow! Quality was really good”, yeah all that stuff so we could get a huge amount of customers and … a lot of like, recognition out of that and we also realized at the time that, the on-demand cleaning game is also like it's pretty competitive it's pretty low margins…

G: Yeah.

B: …the stuff and it's also like quite difficult to scale. Particularly, we were coupling it with linen delivery so you know if you're sending just people to a location, you can do that multi cities very quickly, whereas when you've got a kind of supply chain associated with that, nightmare, right! [Laughter] So you know we, we spent some time trying with how, how to handle the linen situation. And that’s definitely probably the toughest part of the…

G: I think we know somebody.

[Laughter]

B: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

[Laughter]

Gen’s family obviously. Well …yeah so that was, that was the interesting… we also noticed that these short-term property managers [have] been around for a long time, they weren't necessarily embracing the new Airbnb platforms, they weren't, they were still advertising on their personal …websites and stuff like that, and we just said “Guys”, like you know, “the future of your business is, it's a platform play” you know, and “whether there's one platform or many…” you know, “…getting, getting your properties in a likely, increasingly competitive like landscape is, you have to get …with that technology.” yeah and they're also charging quite an exorbitant commission fees and stuff, you know, because they've basically got an office for people answering phone calls and writing emails and doing all that sort of stuff and most of which can be like.

G: Automated.

B: …fairly automated, yeah. Scheduling cleans, you know checking in on cleaners going and physically checking whether the house had been cleaned because they weren't sure the cleaner had been there or not, you know simple stuff, like it's just you know… and another busy business, small business, hard to kind of get on top of all that sort of stuff.

G: Yeah.

B: Anyway, we quickly realized there's a pretty big opportunity in sort of moving up the value chain and taking on natural responsibility assets and it was also interesting because we were doing effectively the hardest part of the property management, you know equation, if you will, and it was also the reason property managers couldn't scale beyond their geographic areas, because they couldn't manage the scale of their cleaning, like it was a simple kind of roadblock for them.

G: Yeah.

B: So here we are, we … “Cool, we're in Sydney ,we're in Melbourne, we’ve managed to scale a kind of cleaning platform tailored to this market in, sort of the space of like six months and that's going pretty well, let's use that as a source of competitive advantage to open up a management business and that's where we kind of launched Hometime and that was really cool because, you know, we've, we've done the hard yards and then you know the rest of the kind of service delivery is around kind of relating to your guests and onboarding homes and, and you know making sure your guest has a good experience, really comes in the communication.

G: Yeah.

B: And that's the centralized function…

G: Sorry.

[Laughter]

B: It's actually probably all right Gen. Yeah it probably, it probably looks, yeah, my skin looks better

[Laughter]

G: ..they tanned? No.

[Laughter]

B: Yeah so it made sense to do that and, and the way we you do that is by, you know through centralized like centralized services. So we can manage guests in Melbourne and Sydney without ever having to see them, and just using like cool tools, nice technology to kind of automate things like the day before they arrive, they get a nice message and that after they arrive, a little check in message and simpler stuff, but if you're a traditional property manager or even a host, you don't have time to necessarily message everyone and check in on them and so instantly you’re like “We’re providing…”

G: ..scale.

B: Yeah, exactly, yeah.

G: Perfect.

B: Yeah, it was nice.

G: So because of that journey right, you guys have evolved quite a bit, you've learned a lot, along the way, pivoted. What do you what's your advice to startups day one when they go, “This is the idea and this is how I'm going to do it.” You know, how do you give them an advice that it's going to change and you need to change to survive?

B: Yeah it's interesting, it's not like, because we yeah, we quickly kind of work that out and we're growing like this but and our revenues going like this, but our margin is this thing like you know, pretty low, pretty skinny. Well this is cool though like it's also competitive, we probably need to make a change and I guess like you know you hear all the podcasts and all the startup, is it's basically like this…

G: Like this one!

[Laughter]

B: Just that, just that and that's the most important thing like don't even try and kind of optimize what you think your operations will be or what your product will be or how your service or … just like just that just get out there hang with your first cleaning team, you know Dave, if Dave was here …a story that when we were like learning to clean with these companies like one …came out and I was like, “Vacuum this part of the ceiling” and he was just like, “What are you doing?” So that was good for us. It's just get out there, get some runs on the board and, and get some feedback right. So very quickly people like, “Oh cool, you know you guys clean our home, but it took you four hours,” like you know, “It's Airbnb it doesn't necessarily mean you need to like dust the top of the fans, but it doesn't mean you need to like adjust the pillow so they look really nice when someone comes in.”

So, you know, you think your value proposition is this and it quickly kind of wriggles out to where it might be or to you know, kind of more of a sustainable path and so I think when you’re just about to keep off, yeah do the research and I would say connect to businesses overseas, that are doing similar things and, and really like build your little network there quickly and because you, that's probably the fastest way to learn, and then the next fastest way is to start doing something you know, and I guess it's hard in some, in some business where your product aren’t tailored or whatever but like when we launched our kind of MVP booking platform, it was super simple like you can book a housekeeper, you couldn't hardly do linen you know it's, it had like two time slots in the day, like there was no kind of cool scheduling or flexibility but that was all it needed to be at the time for our five customers or whatever.

G: …to get started right. You don’t need to build a Facebook overnight, Facebook started something very simple way back in the day to where it is today.

B: Yeah, I guess you'd also tell that they're like after you've learnt it, with this kind of, like once you've gone from just doing it you know bit by bit to trying to grow and scale the business, it’s just always nice to have that scalability, you know thought process behind you.

G: Every decision you make.

B: Yeah, exactly, yeah.

G: That’s awesome. And so what's your team culture like? But it sounds to me you'd be a great housekeeper.

[Laughter]

B: We've got an awesome team culture… but it wasn't always like this…definitely taken... it's been the hardest thing actually, which has been a surprise as well. I feel like you know coming into being an entrepreneur it's like one thing I can do is I can relate to people very easily, I can sort of make friends crazy, I think I should be…you know cultivate a great team culture, not necessarily the case. You know hiring, and hiring has been the hardest thing to learn by far, and getting that team together, so I guess a few mistakes we made early on was just we, you know we hired people too quickly and then we probably released them too slowly, and you know you hire someone based on a skill set that you might need, might be an engineer or might be a marketing person but if you don't give them I guess the support or the direction and if you're not clear on what that person's really meant to achieve.

G: …setting out for failure, right.

B: Exactly and we did that a few times and it wasn’t probably…

G: All startups do.

[Laughter]

B: …funny because when the culture is not working, it's just stressful. So even if you're growing and you're doing other things well there's this underlying kind of niggle that you know the team's not as efficient as it could be and the vibe’s not as great as you want it to be. So anyway yeah like …we've got to the point where like “Cool”, you know when, and there's also this kind of hard thing where like founders… sort of the key part of the team and we're sort of you know, that's where some of the tension was and so that very quickly permeates everywhere right.

G: Yeah.

B: So once, once we kind of like we were pretty adult about it we had those discussions, which is good, and we'd already had like the proper kind of legal frameworks and stuff in place and we kind of just handled it, “Look this is kind of like not working…” and you know we've had someone kind of depart and that kind of freed up the kind of decision-making at a high level and meant that you know the, and that same thing it just kind of flowed down very quickly and the team dynamic changed swiftly after that.

G: That’s incredible. So what are the important legal things startups need to be aware of?

B: Yeah, the whole you know, co-founder agreement and shareholders agreement those kinds of things, assignment of IP is pretty important if you are, if you're building anything technology related, so making sure they're all in place just means that if you come to them and a separation point … a fork in the road where someone's going on a different path, that those conversations are kind of taken care of for you, you're like look we'd love to you know give you the whole company and let you go and start it in another place but we've all agreed to this, this set of documents and it's out of our control and that makes a really much, much easier conversation to have you know and particularly if you're going to get investment and stuff like that, you don't, you know you don't have the freedom just to just say, “Hey well we've taken money from these people and we're going to let you walk with some value,” you know, like, it's got to be withheld at the company.

G: You need rules to play.

B: You need rules to play, yeah. So, yeah, I mean, that's super important and I also, you know it's not something people always sort of sort out early but there's also a really a lot of interest like literature online that you can read and I think that's a great way to kind of tool up you know in this first, if you're thinking about starting and you’re still at work, read those sort of things.

G: Yeah. Well, I mean it's definitely easier to have those conversations while everyone's friendly, it's when everything gets ugly, and it’s very difficult.

[Laughter]

B: That's right, that's right yeah. And just the …you know like you know, because you can't always have, those conversations are tough to have, but the lead-up to those conversations are …

G: The worst…

B: Yeah, exactly and just you have sleepless nights all that sort of stuff.

[Laughter]

So then let’s … flip side, so once you do get it going, once you got it, once you once you feel like you have a team culture, starting to work and you make those few key hires that are just they, they're a cultural fit yeah and then they've got the kind of ability to learn and to contribute and they're flexible, I mean that's something really important thing with a startup is you have flexible teammates. It's such a pleasure, like I think we you know we probably really got on top of this maybe a year ago and then we recently kind of got the Series A funding if you will so we've been able to hire, hire, hire and then the team grew quickly, what you know, more quickly than it had been, but we've learned from our mistakes, we hired well and now it's just like such a pleasure to come to the office and people are very kind of autonomous and they use their initiative and you know the progress just goes

[Vocalizing]

Yeah, it’s nice… the team dynamic working.

G: That’s awesome and you know two-sided marketplaces, globally, it's always challenging right? How did you guys figured out how to control your supply and demand?

B: Yeah it's interesting. I guess like we, we had these ambitions of like you know, we’re going to be a massive marketplace with like tens of thousands of users, you know, all that sort of stuff and you know we're operating in a niche like the Airbnb although it's a massive global marketplace with hundreds of thousands of millions of users, we are still confined at this stage to Australia and to that kind of market and the marketplace has interesting kind of you know, like, I guess situational factors that allow it to kind of function quite effectively without necessarily the crazy volumes we were initially expecting or forecasting and in terms of, in terms of like yeah seeing which side, we started with the with on-demand housekeeping which is more of a clear marketplace  to the property management business and in that respect we seeded supply first because we basically found that these you know it was through the operator model I was talking about earlier now we came across a cohort of the society or whatever that would be a kind of workforce, that basically were looking for flexibility and stuff and didn't necessarily be full-time work from us straight away.

G: Yeah.

B: So it was really nice because like these guys would take jobs and then be happy with a few a week at the start and then once we gave them more volume then they quit their other the job and came on to us kind of …full time which is great so having that kind of, if you can't come across that one little hack that just allows one side to be a little bit easier to, to control… exactly to make sure that…because you can’t get engagement on both sides doesn't … so even if you can kind of fake the engagement or hack the engagement one side it makes it easier.

G: That sounds a little better than fake.

[Laughter]

B: Yeah.

[Laughter]

When you're pitching, use that.

G: Yes… still… you know, do anything illegal.

B: Yeah.

G: Yeah.

B: Yeah that's right and then you can focus you know, then you get a “Cool, how we're going to hack the other side?”, for us it was that it was that everybody made up some …sorts of things which is, it was ridiculous how successful that was and how non-scalable it is but just how quickly it can worked, like to the point where we were doing some cool stuff with the Sydney host network, getting sort of the interior designers in, getting like tax accountant …to explain, that sort of stuff. So just trying to provide a bit of value and then you know Hometime gets a little plug at the end sort of…

G: Everybody is happy.

[Laughter]

B: …that even that kind of format for me … down to Melbourne and so Melbourne started you know using the same sort of same format they asked us, “Hey can we use your guest speakers?” That sort of stuff. And then, that kind of collaboration expanded and you know before you know on people are like, “Hey, when are you guys coming to Melbourne?” and you're like “Wow that's…” you know we're tiny. We’re only like four people in the office here likewise

G: Yeah.

B: Why is a demand coming from Melbourne all of a sudden?

G: That’s fantastic, great!

B: Yeah, yeah, it was cool.

G: …really exciting. And what are some of the tools that you guys use to manage the business?

B: I guess, I think, one, one thing that was a really awesome integration, early on was Xero, like the financial accounting stuff so…

G: You are not sponsored by …

[Laughter]

B: Yeah…or anything…when we first build a platform, one of the first integrations we do is with a account software, right. And to this day the account software provides you the most granular insider to what the business is doing you know, for me to quickly look at like how our operations teams are doing and whether they're kind of acting efficiently, because we do a lot of things I property maintenance, and you know, photography and onboarding … stuff like that and, and if I can see that is you know less kind of billable sort of costs coming through the business, it’s like, “Hey guys, what's going on?”

G: Yeah.

B: And so that's great, I would you know, instead of at the end of the month invoicing people not quite having them kind of like idea of where your company stands and have thing to do with the reconciliation…

G: Yeah.

B: …having that as a live, kind of … just diving to … and check it out that’s, that’s awesome.

G: Makes perfect sense, right. And what else have you …any analytics things?

B: Yeah, so analytics was interesting like so we, I didn't have a marketing background, engineering background, like so like the, enjoy the numbers and stuff like that but not a marketing background and so you know it's really hard to kind of improve your, your product or even just your website …forget the product, you just want to convert the customers you know, the product will come and eventually that'll take a life at the time but you just need to convert the customers and so you do, look at your Google Analytics and get some help setting that up, right.

G: Yeah.

B: I would say an awesome one that we didn't come across until quite recently was well you know, down, further down the path was something called Google tag manager and you know install that, takes like half a day to get it working and then all of a sudden the insights, you can you know you can get from Facebook and from Google, you go from being a hunch to kind of something that's quite accurate.

G: Yeah.

B: So this kind of leads you, you know nicely into, little, I'll do a quick … Tamme early …I don’t have to …early on you use Google analytics and that's the stuff and what's been really awesome since we've got investment is like, I was explaining this the other day like our partnership with a, with a marketing, you know, capability and they've kind of, they've just taken they've kind of the drill down of your, of your customer acquisition process to such a granular level, I never thought it was even required, right? So when our guys are telling us … one of our investment partners, they're telling us like, “Cool” you know, “I can see…” you know “…Joan Smith signed up last week and I can see she came from this campaign, but you got like, “How do you know that was the first campaign she clicked on?” Like you're only saving the most recent data, like I don't know if that was … you know she might have clicked four times before coming to your website and signing up. We were like, “Okay cool, so then we get …cool, look, now we’ve saved, like, Joan Smith to our database, well this is all the touch points she had and this is the conversion points and this is the maps she went down.” And then, and then the guys are like, “Okay that, that's great but you know you're still not telling me you what she was searching for before she came to Hometime?” And I’m like, really!?

We’ve kind of done this one a more of a custom built, sort of scale and we now have such a good, you know, deep dive into what they do and then also what they do post sign up and become a customer in terms of their spending habits and stuff and, and we've got quite a long tail acquisition process so for someone to sign up and hand the keys over to a property manager it's, it's a bit of research, it's finding out you know who are the competitors in the market, who's what the comparison rates are for services they offer, it's probably a phone call and a browse our website and then it's sometimes a coffee before that, the only thing which is not scalable, that …I try to avoid that but …

G: …your calendar.

[Laughter]

B: But to optimize your, your marketing you know tactics or, or your campaigns, you don't really know which one was working because, Joan mucked around for four weeks before she became the customer and so as soon as she became a customer and then understanding what her spending was after that and feeding that right back into the start of it, top of your funnel, is super important. So now we do things like we, we as a customer comes and sign up, you have their, this sort of a lead that's generated from the website, it might be an email, it might be a phone, phone number, they're quickly retreated to other sort of warm, hot or cold through their interactions with, with us in our sales team and then as soon as they're marked as warm, hot or cold, that feeds directly back into the campaign metrics, so campaign A yielded a high number of warm or hot leads despite this kind of spending that sort of stuff, even though it might have had a fewer number of total leads, it's a high quality campaign. So once, once you get there then, it's the … to build a strong kind of competitive advantage against your competitors because you understand down to the cent how much you’re going to spend to acquire the customer and if you know that kind of lifetime value and there's a kind of positive Delta there you can confidently, you know allocate resources for that whereas before, before we get that kind of level of detail, I might be wafting off a little bit here, but you're, you're thinking “We need to try something new all the time.”

G: Yeah.

B: “Should we try billboard? Should we try buses? Should we try radio?” Like all those things just because you're like, “We want that kind of instantaneous boost.”

G: Yeah.

B: But then you kind of go, “Okay cool, no like this Facebook medium or Google medium or this Display Network and whatever it might be, that's the little anomaly that seems to be performing better,” and rather than a thousand bucks on a billboard, you're going with 1,000 bucks on that little kind of, that little campaign that seems to be doing something quite well.

G: Yeah.

B: And, and before you know it, you know you're not even making a conscious decision but before you're not two miles down the track you’ve, you've really honed in, and found … a year down the track you’ve got this really kind of powerful you know acquisition metrics that you can move to other markets and stuff like that. So that's the kind of, you start with Google analytics and tag manager and then eventually, you really do need to…

G: Yeah.

B: Go pretty crazy…

G: …evolving, right.

B: Yeah…

G: …you’re looking at unit economics…

B: That’s right.

G: So how did you I guess involved that into the conversation, the daily conversation with your team and obviously all the other tricks you know there's a transformation that because people aren't used to doing that.

B: No that's right, that's right and even, even when you know, yeah, this is …the obvious ones like you're practicing on TVs and stuff like that but I guess what's even interesting is and what we've learned from this kind of this marketing kind of influence is to monitor those on a bi-weekly basis kind of thing so not even end of the month and go “Oh I was spending X to get our customers”, it’s kind of like … [Laughter] we’ve spent it already! Exactly, yeah. So how come we’ve spend you know double we did the previous month but our customer is only up 20% kind of thing, you know they're not the conversations you want to have so, so I would say like your you know it can be your acquisition cost or your cost per lead or it can be your cost per hot lead or it can be you know your cost per email whatever it might be look at those at least weekly and then and compare them to the previous week and because that's the only way you, you do it like enough so you can know what changed. Because if you evaluate it at the end of the month, you've changed 10 things you know and…

G: Yeah, I know.

B: You’ve done it.

G: …automated so you can pull a lead …

[Laughter]

B: …Yeah, that’s exactly like that. It's funny because we've pulled our … in to build that kind of system and it's being sort of like I said, four months and the five months in the process and if we've had a bit of an off-the-shelf product that you know, you know it's good. One thing is going through the process you learn so much.

G: That’s important, yeah.

B: And then you, you know makes it, using a product a lot easier but yeah I mean, it would be nice, I want to say… if we just plugged it in

[Laughter].

G: Coming real soon!

[Laughter]

B: Yeah, coming soon.

[Laughter]

G: That's awesome and so then I think, so what’s next? So, you guys are planning on getting outside of Australia or?

B: Yeah, that’s right. So I guess like, you know, one thing that's interesting for us is like, obviously there’s more markets in Australia so it will, we’ll go to the Gold Coast and Brisbane fairly soon and then we want to kind of start like we'll also go to New Zealand, sort of as part of that kind of roll out and then you know, then we'll just kind of see how we go because that’s sort of kind of a new… when you expand to different time zones and all that sort of stuff your tech just gets a bit of work up, you know a bit of a stretch and you just go see how that goes and then there's like the Asian opportunities on our doorstep so we're very interested in that. But also I think what we've looked and this comes back to looking overseas and seeing …successful companies have done abroad, some of the most successful companies in the U.S., instead of conquering in these kind of key markets which you might think are like New York, L.A. and London and all those kind of like big cities, it's actually getting that an operating model that allows you to go into the smaller markets, like holiday, holiday rental markets like for example in Australia might be like Byron Bay…

G: Yeah.

B: …or something like that because…

G: Test how it turn over at small density…

B: That's right, yeah. And although that the sheer volume or the number of homes of listings you would get in the entirety of Byron Bay is probably comparable to the … in Sydney, the fact that you can then go and apply it to ten other Byron Bays is a really kind of an interesting …

G: Proposition.

B: Yeah exactly. So that’s… and that requires again like at the moment we have this kind of marketplace setup with our operations so housekeeping and linens and all that sort of stuff, marketplace in Byron Bay? …you know It's a different kind of thing, it's a, you've got a couple of small providers, you don't have the liquidity to sort of make that work. So it's going to require some similar operating tweaks.

G: Yeah.

B: And you know a few technology tweaks and then we’ll see how it goes. So but I think that's a, it's a big opportunity and like I said before looking abroad, some of the most successful companies overseas have cracked that. So that’s what we’ll look for…

G: It’s very exciting.

B: Yeah.

G: So, questions I always ask everyone is what do you read or listen to or look to, to get ideas, advice…?

B: Yeah. So I mean and a lot people have been talking…Masters of Scale, I’ve been enjoying lately, love the Reid Hoffman one and the, the twenty, is it the …half-hour startups or twenty minute startups? I can check for you and we’ll comment on who the … I think we’re almost out of memory.

G: Yeah.

[Laughter]

B: But yes I'm going to be pretty new to the podcast scene, but I'm loving it. So I used to listen to like you know, you know the Tim Ferriss and I feel those kind of like ones but when you… kind of dug down a bit deeper and there's a whole layer and I only…that Spotify has actually got a whole podcasts section…

G: Oh really!

B: Yeah!

[Laughter]

G: Oh I didn’t know that!

[Laughter]

B: It's a bit easy to browse by interests in Spotify, they've done a good job of kind of curating what the interests are, your breakdowns are so you can just yeah, yeah there's a little of the day that's Spotify podcasts, thanks to Dave…

[Laughter]

But yeah that's the main thing and then there's a lot of good little email newsletters you can sign up for and I think if you can come into the morning like get to work in the morning, whatever your morning ritual is but you just get a little top up of reading and information or you do that in the evenings, it's a pleasure right, because it's something that you could just “Ah, that's something applies to me in real life,” so…

G: Yeah, that’s awesome. And lucky last one, if you could have a superpower what could, what would it be?

B: A superpower!

G: Yeah.

B: I'd be … funnily enough, it'd be networking like a ninja.

[Laughter]

G: Yeah.

B: I think honestly there's so much to gain from just having everyone as your best friend and being able to pull upon them and, and it doesn't matter whether you're an entrepreneur or simply you know in any form of business or any form of your career…

G: Yeah.

B: …just networking like a ninja is a way to really excel.

[Laughter]

G: Awesome and if people want to check out your site or get involved with Hometime, where should they go, what should they follow?

B: Yeah. Hometime.io, that's you know everything's there. Yeah, I guess if you… Gen asked me like what was the one like kind of tip was, some people think it's too hard.

G: Yeah.

B: And you might have investment property and all sort of stuff, I've heard about this Airbnb opportunity, it's too hot, that's what Hometime exists for.

G: Yeah.

B: Flick us like the worst property with no furniture all that sort of stuff, we’ll turn it around for you very quickly and make it a very painless exercise so yeah, jump onboard, check us out.

[Laughter]

G: And you can hold onto it.

[Laughter]

B: Well, how do you buy yourself a holiday? Like, “Hey, I just spend shebang of a two weeks and we didn't spend any money because the place is on Airbnb.”

G: Are you serious?

B: Yeah! It was amazing.

G: That’s awesome.

B: And this just isn't a … In Bondi, I was, I was pretty amazed. I guess one thing that Airbnb has all this crazy criteria now on how to gamify.

G: Yeah.

B: And that's something that we've kind of made our expertise right.

G: Yeah.

B: So if even in the dead of winter in a Bondi property you can still you know pull sort of double the rent out of it, you should do that. Cool guys, thanks for listening, I hope it wasn't too boring.

[Laughter]

G: Thanks very much guys! See you next time and enjoy your week.