Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Luke Metcalfe, founder of the househunting site Microburbs.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Imagine house-hunting with kids, dragging them from open-house to open-house, just to find out what the area is really like. That was me earlier this year. Although things looked great in the ads, there was a lot left out – details about the neighbourhood, which schools were in the catchment area, or worse – the property next door was about to become a construction site. A nightmare.
Microburbs is a user-friendly website which gives buyers and renters everything they need to know about their prospective home. It provides a comprehensive report on factors such as convenience, lifestyle, tranquillity, hipness and suitability for kids and seniors in micro detail.
With details on every address in Australia, Microburbs is fast becoming the Aussie homebuyer’s secret weapon in making smart property investments.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Up until now, it’s been product-driven with word of mouth as a driver. Though on the odd day off from managing development the I’ve been done some PR, geek style. When the Ashley Madison database came out, we broke down cheaters by postcode. That got us an enormous amount of coverage traffic. Now we’re much less lopsided on the marketing side of things, we’ll be pushing hard on growth hacking, and grabbing as much low hanging fruit as we can.
I’m looking forward to doing more PR and content marketing that really informs about areas. We uncover so much interesting data every day and we want to share.
We are currently raising $500k-$1m.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Most property sites provide what we call, “glorified classified ads for houses”. Great in showcasing the property but not much more. Even those that show more information is typically limited and at a suburb level. We delve down to what we call the Microburb, the small, unique areas around the property (great for those huge suburbs which can vary wildly) and give all the factors that contribute to the buying decision. The biggest cost of a house is the land and the land’s value is only a function of what it’s near, so why not cover that?
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Obviously there’s one major site nationally that gets most of the listings. Whilst they have a lot of resources to help maintain their current prime market position, I do see a lot of synergy and potential for us to work closely together. We’ve created a Chrome application that does just that – this app creates a Microburbs sidebar tool that features our unique scorecard so you can have all the information side by side as you review property listings.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
I’d say Apptivate. It’s just a hotkey app but you could say I use it every time I switch apps!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
There’s loads of good advice out there around technical marketing and being responsive to user needs, which we consider carefully. The advice most present in my brain though, and most useful, is to maintain your passion and keep coming back to your mission. It can sound cheesy – there’s the skeptical Gen-X Aussie in me – but it really is the most powerful driver of motivation, and the more you put into your business, the better it becomes.
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