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 Mike Banks, founder of StreetHubs .
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
We generally don’t have our neighbours’ contact details or know their names, and it’s not cool to just ‘drop in’ anymore. We want to live on friendly streets, but strong communities rarely form organically. StreetHubs has created private social networks on every street and is inviting neighbours to join, one street at a time. We drop relevant conversation starters into each ‘Hub’ to help build vibrant, self-supporting communities.
Connected streets can make trusted recommendations, lobby councils, reduce crime, organise social activities and solve everyday problems like remembering which bins go out this week.
Society has become less friendly and more isolating as social technology turns our attention to our global networks and away from our neighbours. StreetHubs’ ultimate goal is to reinvent the way neighbours interact, changing streets for the better.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
StreetHubs is founder-financed. We’re in a fortunate position to not need external support to acquire users. Investment for us is purely about scaling rapidly.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Internet giants (Facebook and Google) cavalier attitude to privacy has made users nervous about handing over their data. We need to build trust and authenticity to get past that hurdle.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
StreetHubs is the only platform dedicated to neighbours at street/building level. There are other services that create social networks at suburb level, but have failed to create user engagement. They’re just too big to be personal or relevant.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Whatsapp – groups I’ve formed on the platform are really crucial to me, underscoring the value of communication.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to make a change. You learn more and become more valuable if you’re willing to experience new things.
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