Sum it up for us – what is Your Home My Home?
R: Your Home My Home connects travel-loving homeowners with caring and reliable house and pet-sitters. As a sitter, you’ll enjoy the comforts of the home you’re minding and as a homeowner, you can truly immerse yourself in your travels knowing that your home, pets and plants are well cared for.
How did you get the idea?
M: Bec was building her own home and wanted to avoid paying unnecessary rent. So, her and her husband house-sat across Melbourne for 18 months during the project. The arrangement was so successful, they were inspired to create a platform where homeowners and house-sitters could connect online.
What’s the biggest win you’ve had so far?
M: We’ve heard from many first home buyers who have used YHMH to avoid paying rent while saving for their first home. Hearing that we have played a role in helping them into the property market is incredibly gratifying.
R: Exchanging over 10,000 nights in accomodation in our first 12 months was also a great milestone, along with all of the publicity we’ve received across major Australian newspapers, various magazines and TV.
Knowing that we’ve played a role in helping so many people enter the property market is incredibly gratifying.
What’s been your biggest mistake?
M: It took us some time to understand pricing psychology. Our audience is far more comfortable with small, manageable monthly payments, rather than signing up to a 12-month membership upfront.
R: In the early days the site received so much traffic that it crashed and took a couple of hours to get back up. That was a good lesson – to ensure our tech could handle tens of thousands of hits at once.
What’s your experience been funding your startup?
M: So far it’s been fully self-funded and any profits are channelled back into the business. We have a very lean model so we work hard to use our capital as strategically as possible.
What needs to improve/change for Australia to become a global leader in innovation and tech?
M: Australia is building great support networks of mentors, co-working spaces and advice portals for start-ups, but there needs to be more financial infrastructure to help get good ideas get off the ground. Without seed funding or personal investment, it’s almost impossible to test whether an idea has legs for scale.
Have you had any challenges with sourcing and growing your team?
R: Not as yet. The business is manageable for now, though we know that if we want to scale we’ll need to upweight the team.
M: I think we’ve been incredibly fortunate to attract like-minded people to our business. Bec and I have worked together for over a decade, so from that perspective we are very attuned to one another’s working styles – we have similar values and a similar work ethic.
Do you have any tips for acquiring new users and/or scaling your business?
M: Ask for help. The brilliant thing about the startup community is people are incredibly generous with advice, making introductions and providing constructive feedback. Use that network to improve and grow your business.
R: We know that publicity works for us too. When we get PR, we get lots of traction. We’ve also been building our Facebook page organically, which is working well and driving traffic.
Use your network to improve and grow your business.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
M: Probably sleeping a little bit more, and maybe watching television occasionally!
R: Your Home My Home is a side hustle at the moment. I love being able to spend my time and energy on something that teaches me something new each day, and as a result helps me with my day job too.
If you could go back to the start, tell us two things you would do differently.
M: Firstly, engage with the startup community sooner. We worked hard to develop our idea completely independently. We’ve since be exposed to so many brilliant minds in the startup community who have shared their experience and wisdom with us so openly. We could have learned a lot more sooner if we had tapped into that network a little earlier.
Secondly, be a little less camera shy. We were both adamant that we didn’t need to share our personal and professional journey in order to grow our business. We wanted our idea, not ourselves, to be the focal point. We’ve come to learn that our community of users are just as interested in the people behind the Your Home My Home platform as the platform itself. We’re much more open to sharing our story and experience now.
We could have learned a lot more sooner if we had tapped into that network a little earlier.
What’s the best advice you could give to someone starting out?
M: Do everything and anything. No introduction, speaking opportunity or media request is too big or small for you to consider. Say yes to every opportunity when it comes to promoting your startup. You’ll leave every interaction with new knowledge and more experience.
R: Have a go! There is no harm in having a crack. Run your ideas past people whose opinions you trust and value.