Vi Friebertshauser - CEO & Co-Founder, Homads

Vi Friebertshauser - CEO & Co-Founder, Homads

Ever the entrepreneur, Vi Friebertshauser made her first dollar in first grade by trading in found soda cans. She's continued to scale up her life and her business pursuits with her most recent being Homads in 2015. Her philosophy and that of Homads is simple. Don't Settle. Settle In.


Troy: Good afternoon, Austin. I hope everyone is enjoying the unseasonably nice warm weather that we are, have been having lately. Unfortunately it's also algae season, so it makes it a little challenging for some of us to wanna get out and do as much as we should with this nice weather. But Today I get to be inside and I get to do some podcast stuff.

So that's always good. And I'm joined today by the, Friebertshauser. Believe I only butchered that a little bit. Today from no home ads. How's it going today?

Vi: Great. Thanks for having me,

Troy: Troy. Oh, really appreciate it. Why don't you always, generally kinda like to start off with a little bit of origin story about you and and home

Vi: ads.

Yeah, for sure. So I started home ads with a couple of other people. Maybe what I, it was 2016 when we first launched, though. It's quite a while, right? Did not really,

Troy: it's really not that long ago. But in startup work, startup world feels like forever ago.

Vi: Yeah. . Yeah. And also I was in my late twenties then, so it was a interesting, discovery period within that time too.

So it seemed like a decade ago, which I guess we're getting close to that too. You round up, but started it when it was at the advent of home sharing, house hacking, that sort of stuff. It was really new. And I, being the introvert myself was thinking, Hey, you know what? I really don't wanna talk to someone every couple of days and have like shallow conversations.

I wanna have someone stay longer. , but I also don't want an annual lease and commit to that. And it really just came from that. And that's how we fell into the midterm rental side of things. So Home Ads is essentially a booking site for medium term rentals. And so midterm rentals pretty much means anything that is, has 30 days and then less than then annually.

So it's the mid part, . So we trucked along doing that for the last several years and did not truly understand really how long it would take for people to pick up what they have now recently picked up with understanding remote work and being able to work anywhere and lived. . And so that's essentially how we got started initially.

I can go into more details. It kind just depends on which direction we wanna go on it.

Troy: I'm for any directions, it's interesting you mentioned how . I think for a lot of people, if they're starting a business, especially a kind of a startup type of thing, how it's, it really initially a lot of times is a need.

They're them trying to fulfill a need that they have. . And so it's interesting that's part of your journey as well, that it was like, oh hey, this seems interesting. But there's nothing out there that really Covers this space right now. And it's, it's, I think it's cool, it's a way to scratch the itch of trying to, fix your own thing.

But it's also an interesting way to come up with ideas. You hear a lot of people that, I wanna start something, but I don't know what's, yeah what's something you wish was different or better or just, changed in the world or in your life and go with that because it also, I'm sure.

Having that passion for that specific problem has also, I'm sure, helped you pursue it potentially longer than you would've some other project that you didn't, weren't, didn't have that passion for.

Vi: Yeah, I definitely see it from both sides now. When I first started I always thought people were crazy when they'd tell me like, I wanna do something if I don't have what I want.

I don't know what problem to solve, right? And I was just thinking that is the craziest thing, like why would you wanna do this? . But then I see it now. having done the, like several years and then also other smaller things on the side. And then, there are, it's coming from the other perspective.

I had someone, a mentor tell me one time, I think he was at yc, and he said there are two companies one that was like, just there every day working their asses off all this stuff. And then the another one that was just like partying, doing whatever, and it's didn't really care too much, but made it enough to get to YC, obviously.

And it was crazy within the duration that he was there. He said the company that actually wasn't busting their ass was like, it was so easy for them to make money and it was really just timing and market, right? And that you can work so hard, but if you do not find the. company really that fits that, product market fit kind of mentality.

It is gonna be so difficult. And so his mentality was choose an easy, choose an easy company. They're easy ones and there are hard ones, and I totally get it now. When I look at it and I'm like, oh, you know what? . What if I were to start something where I start and the opportunity of, where we are today and then working backwards to it is a lot easier for me to perceive than when I first started.

It was just like a, oh, you know what, no one's doing this small niche, and I could do that. . I didn't think about any of the business side of it until much later.

Troy: Yeah, that's an interesting and I can't think of this specific quote, but I'm sure there's a quote out there about success being opportunity plus , like invention or something like that, right?

There's a lot of things in life that, growth isn't a linear process. Yes. And so whether it's startups, honestly, whether it's financial investments like the SOC market and different things, right? , I'm in, I'm a realtor. So the housing market, right? You Yeah. Trying to time markets, trying to time the perfect time to do a startup.

The perfect time to buy a house, the perfect time to get into stocks generally doesn't work because, Over the course of a year or a decade, there are literally these moments of when something really takes off and were you prepared and ready to take advantage of that opportunity or yeah, were you waiting to find the right time to jump in and then by the time you jump in, it's too late?

And so the same thing there, like by ha, by being having been prepared. Over a number of years to suddenly this, the covid shut, pan Covid hits lockdowns hit and people are like we still want to get out. So should these short term rentals are a huge thing now is an opportunity that you were never gonna be able to predict would happened to accelerated business

Vi: growth?

Yeah, for sure. One thing I noticed with other entrepreneurs that, I see now in hindsight too, is I see a, I think it is a misconstrued. Perception that you have to work full-time on something and that means I think what it is investors see, hey, a k P of successful startups are ones that are working full-time.

And that's because they had so much traction that they had to quit their full-time job and go here. And then somewhere there's a miscommunication and it then is indicated to founders or they think in their heads, Hey, , if I quit my job, it'll indicate to an investor that I'm investible, right? And that's not how that should go

What really is interesting is I see a lot of founders who are just. Have a couple of things or like full-time one thing and then just have 10% on something and let it sit. And it's maybe they're not talking about it and maybe they built it and just let it sat and then looked at the numbers and that traction will tell them.

And that was very interesting to me because it was the, having the experience to know when to put down the gas and then when to let off. Is I just really. Went and then thought, Hey, I gotta commit to this. I wanna put 110% home ads, and if I got five, 10 rejections, that means I'll just send in like a another a hundred and get a another a hundred rejections or read the market and they'll when to let off and then utilize your time somewhere else.

I'm sure. I guess that's the experience part.

Troy: Yeah. I was say, I'm sure as a first time founder like that's one of those things that you wouldn't, and you don't, a lot of times in life you don't know what you don't know, right? Yeah. You don't know that there are different ways to go about it.

You just hear, again, mostly the huge, large success stories. And so a lot of those are someone that just does it full-time. , either they can, they have, again, in, in a lot of cases, especially the Silicon Valley ones, they're, they have a network of people or family money to where it's great, we're gonna we'll get you this startup and you can, live off of this for a little while to, to jump up.

So that's a different concept. The nice thing about potentially keeping your full-time job and growing it slower is you can. Bootstrap it, obviously a little bit better that way as well, which again, I think doesn't get as much attention because it's not as splashy headline wise and things. . But in reality, one of the things that I, again, in my learnings with the Austin startup community too you think, oh, great, I raised a bunch of money.

But also what that means is you sold off some of your company, some of your control, and so as great as it is to raise money and that you need to have cash flow to keep the business going at the same point in time. like giving up control, earlier and earlier or more of it is definitely not something that most founders initially, especially first time founders really wanna do.

Like it's their baby. And now if you suddenly have all these other people that are telling you, Hey, we need to see results, we need to see this like that, yeah. I'm sure lead to a lot of less than enjoyable

Vi: experiences. Yeah. Initially I was worried about control whenever it. Raising money.

And then after I, and we mostly bootstrap and we were raised mostly from angel investors if we raised anything. But no institutional funding and. The thing that I realized after Covid is while, so I talked to pretty much every direct competitor of home ads. Essentially it was, I was trying to sell off home ads, right?

I was like, I'm done. I wanna get my hand, just take our supply, do whatever. And I realized they were all failing and they were failing way worse than us typically is because they took institutional money. And why I. They're failing is because it works really well is if the market and everything goes the way that you want it to go.

But it's one of those things of fail fast situation too, is if it the market and the, it's not going well. Most investors do want u to fail fast, so then there's less maintenance, less of everything. But from a, founder's perspective is also, Hey, I just hired however many people full.

You can't be like, Hey, you know what can you work less hours? That's what we had to do. Or, Hey, you know what, you're still at your full-time job. I don't have to worry about your mortgage. You don't get extra money, but let's just not build anything for right now. We could do that, right?

Versus institutional, like people will have institutional money. It is a, Hey, you're gonna have to fire people and it's a massive deal. Or lay off people, or whatever it is. And so I think they ended much faster. Just because it's that steep right? It's either go really far Yeah. Or stop

Troy: very quickly.

That, and then the VCs want you to put that money to use too. It's not Hey, yeah, I like this is growing slower. Maybe. Maybe people, Your, the angel investors can maybe see the idea and be like, great, this might work down the road. Where VCs are like, no, we want it to work a lot faster. So it's not, hey, get this money and have this as a rainy day fund or cash flow when times are tough fund, it's a, Hey, take our money, put it to use to see, to get things to, put it as the jet fuel for the, the rocket engine to get things really going.

And so they want you to burn through it quickly, which again, isn't always the.

Vi: Situation. Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense if it's the, Hey, we have product market fit and let's say it's a consumer product that's gonna cost this. If the due diligence and all of that lines up, yes, it makes sense to take that money, but.

The earlier to stage, the less likely those things are really gonna happen. And we are early, right? Like for instance, now we're just seeing the midterm rental market take off. And certain industries that weren't open to us are now wide open, right? And so we're like, huh, this is crazy. And we never would've even gone this route.

Had we actually taken money because we would've said, oh, we're doing relocation, or whatever it is, that we said we were doing. And then we can't just go back and we changed our minds. We're totally gonna pivot and do a more b2b just cut off the consumers side. Like those are massive decisions to make that if the more stakeholders you have, the harder it is to do.

And then there's also, it's a, the preference thing too, right? Is I met another founder, he is a good friend of mine, and I think he raised. 30 million or something so far. And he was like, I was talking about possib. What did I wanna do? Did I want to, try to sell off home as I wanna shut it down?

And he was just so envious of me. And I was like, what are you talking about, ? He was like, you have a choice. I would love, like the grass is always greener, but he would love to just be like, what do I wanna do next? Versus, he took the checks and this is what he is doing for the next however many years.

Troy: Yes. You mentioned that homemed was your first venture into the startup world. What was, what were you doing prior to starting it up and

Vi: going. . So I was all media. I actually had worked in nonprofit, so I have a background in sociology and also film mostly documentary side, right?

And worked in nonprofit, worked in disaster recovery, all of this stuff. And they mostly utilize me for my media because most nonprofits do not have media budgets, right? , and then got more into mainstream media, was connecting a lot Asian American. with mainstream media. So let's say working with A R P, right?

Elderly care is a big deal for Asian communities. And so getting that media connection there or I worked with Walmart commercials and that was very, it was awesome because I got to learn a lot, but it was also soul sucking because it's just like 32nd commercials. Creativity is sucked outta you.

Yeah. was very much in the media. And so it wasn't very difficult in terms of most people will say tech is like male-dominated Asian media. Oh man, totally different world. So I would say it wasn't that difficult to transition over. The harder part of transitioning into tech was the technical part, right?

Is understanding how it works. How do I. work well with the development team while I provide the business side, that sort of stuff.

Troy: Nice. And then are you originally from the Austin area at all, or, I know, seems like most people, it's rare that I get to interview someone that is originally from Austin, but are you from here?

From California?

Vi: So I came here, California. I came here in oh five, so that would date me age wise, but I came here for college. Okay. But, born and raised Texan, so it's not like a far,

Troy: not even not the dreaded California, which isn't, they say it's the easy, one of the easy jokes to make, especially as a real estate agent, is about, oh more Californians keep coming.

In reality,

Vi: my husband is from Sonoma. I joke with him all time .

Troy: And California is the state that has the most out staters coming to Texas. But there's, for Austin specifically, and even I'm sure the other cities too, there's way more in way more intrastate migration that ends up happening. Yeah, exactly. Especially the small towns to the bigger cities has been a thing.

20, 30 years in America, if not more. And as, as much as we like to give the Californians a hard time, they're easy targets. It's definitely not a, that wouldn't be the sole reason to have gross slowdown if they stopped coming by. Any needs

Vi: for sure. . Yeah. We actually saw a lot of that with home ads too.

Prior to Covid was just a lot of interstate moving. .

Troy: I will say I felt as a realtor, and I don't know if you necessarily know one or those two, but that with Covid, it actually, I felt like we had more people from a lot of different other areas. Like I felt like we had a lot more North Easterners coming to to Texas where I felt like before and plenty, 'em still went down to Florida as well, but I feel like that was their more kind of direct pipeline from the cold to the warm or from the expensive. The less expensive was going New York to Cal, New York to Florida. Yep. And where at Frost. A lot of, west Coasters to Texas or Idaho or Arizona.

And it felt like with Covid that there was more everyone going everywhere, there was Yep. Partially prem. Sure. Because there wasn't maybe the specific job need. Yep. With some of those. . Cause obviously like from Silicon Valley to the Austin area. . So you could kinda work anywhere.

But that was, yeah. Interesting thing to me is just how many more people that it felt like I was dealing with that were from New Jersey or from Connecticut, or from Ohio.

Vi: Yeah. Yeah, if you posed a question, prior to Covid of if you could live anywhere, think of housing, think of, your surroundings, your neighborhood, where would you wanna.

That question, most people would just be like, oh, that's impossible cause of this, right? And now it's oh, that's not impossible and I can do all of this. It's, and that was actually why I really started home ads too, was because I was doing video editing, right? So I had managed a lot of editors at the time, so I would just have a hard drive with 12 different projects from all these different editors.

And I would have to go in and approve and give comments. And all I needed was a laptop and a. . And so I remember I backpack Europe, like Western Europe for three months and like being in a hostile and Istanbul and sending back, edits and being like, oh, I'm getting paid. I'm sitting out here doing whatever and eating pretty much my way through Europe.

And I was just thinking, imagine if everyone could do that, right? And that was the hope. But of course you. I'm not sure if it was talking to you previously, the cost of changing consumer behavior is just so expensive. And that was just something that I, in my naivety of starting a startup back then was, I did not fully understand that until now.

Troy: Yeah. I mean there's obviously at that, I'm sure it was obviously at a younger age, but. There's obviously a lot of different factors for why people decide where they live and if they'd wanna move and all those kinds of things as well too. And so being younger, probably single at the time, and having a job that has that flex, that's true.

Flexibility, that's true. Makes obviously makes it generally significantly easier. As people, for myself, again, not being originally from Texas, like I have family all over the country, so like it wouldn't be. mentally, it's not that hard of a leap to be like, oh, I could move around to different places and work.

But for a lot of people, yeah, they end up, most people end up living within a relatively small radius of where they were born. And it's obviously less and less, but so there's just a lot of fam, lot of potentially family, a lot of their network of people. And then again, obviously jobs as well too.

Now more and more jobs seem to be going, or not seem to more and more jobs. Being able to be done remotely. , it's interesting to see how companies will continue to do that because obviously a lot of the larger companies, apples, the, Googles, Amazons and stuff have at least hinted, if not started to push back on fully remote Yeah.

Workers and so that'll be an interesting. Push and pull between what really happens there. Yeah. Right now everything, right now, most stuff is still on the side of the workers just because there's generally not enough high skilled workers for a lot of those jobs. Yeah. But when you hear of Amazon laying off 8,000 or 18,000 people in Facebook, laying up 12,000 people, Gonna put a little bit more power in the corporation's courts to say, Hey, guess what?

We're not gonna let you off, but we do require you to come back into the office.

Vi: Yeah. Yeah. We know that some companies were trying to get creative where it was, Hey, they're not doing so hot with remote work and they just want the face-to-face. I think some hybrid. is, possible where they wanted, they said, Hey, what can I get, for the summertime a month for our marketing team to come together, in a specific location, right?

And so like people are trying to get creative with the hybrid mentality of it. I think it allows a lot. A lot more meaning, a lot more flexibility if you're, let's say a worker where you can work remotely, but then your needs to go in office are a lot less. And then you reverse that too, is, from a founders standpoint, fundraising was always, unless you do consumer product goods or like enterprise sales type of stuff in Texas, like it, most people don't get what you.

And so you either have to go out to New York City or San Francisco, and for me it was San Francisco because they are more consumer based, had a lot more wins for consumer exits, that sort of stuff. And. That is a very costly thing to do is build a relationship there if you do not live there. Sure.

Because prior to Covid, people wouldn't take a, a video call. It was weird. They, and a phone call is a little impersonal versus a video call is like that in between. Yeah. And so now some of them nonverbal. Communication. Exactly. And so it was like a hit or miss because like fundraising is almost like dating where it's just obviously, like dating, there's a checklist of things you want, but a lot of is dynamic.

 And do you trust this person and all this stuff. And. , how do you date someone? Date someone right from afar, right? Yeah. You get one interaction and you gotta go fly out to that place. Imagine if you're had a date, if you had to fly out to see them on the first date, right?

at best, 50 50 chance, like it's an expensive thing to do. And so now with it going remote, it's actually quite nice as you can get those introductory, meetings and be like, is there chemistry to like, go do this in person. Yeah. And we're seeing that a lot more and more in like in different transactions.

Troy: No, for sure. It's it's a, we as as unfortunate as Covid and all the lockdowns and stuff have been. , it was like the timing of when it happened couldn't have been better. I'm sure somewhere down the road in the future it'll would've been even better because, some of, some other technology but have best happened 20 years ago when we didn't have any possibility of video conferencing and you were stuck at home like, And actually had to lose your job because you could only look at a computer that was plugged into the hard hardwired system in, in an office somewhere.

And then say, to not build, to not have, be able to have these types of connections. And obviously the in-person connect you, they still don't replace the in-person connections, but you can build, there's a lot of Trust and comradery that you can build through virtual virtual connections and virtual relationships that can help you when you do get into person.

Stuff that can make it a lot better, I'm sure can make on the fund and fundraising when it is, like you say, like dating and it's relatively serious. It's obviously they're important meetings and stuff that way, so it's was one of those where it's, I'm sure it's nice to have a little groundwork laid versus going in cold.


Vi: Yeah, exactly. .

Troy: So what other than having the idea for home ads was there ever really a point in time much before that, that you thought, Hey I want to go into business, my, for myself, start my own business? It sounded like you were maybe ready to get out of the media space as le at least as it dealt with the 32nd commercial spot.

But growing up, were you very entrepreneurial minded? Was that something you had always. Look to do, expected to do Wanda to.

Vi: Yeah, so prior to Home Meds, I actually ran a production company with Naco founder too. So I've always think it's because my mom started her own store, so she used to, so very vener of us.

But she had a, she would do sewing for all these companies, right? She would sew close and she then started her own alterations in dry cleaning service. And her own store. I remember putting flyers out on cars, all this stuff when we were like a young kid sleeping on I, I don't know how familiar people are about dry cleaners, but you throw these clothes in these like bags, right?

And it's oh, you want light starch, medium starch, whatever. And we were like young and my mom would have to go to the post office and she'd be like, Hey, I'm gonna take you to work. Obviously it's like a weekend, right? Take you to work and I need to run some errands while you're there.

And there's like less people in the morning. So we're just like pass out, falling asleep on those like bags. And then the customer would come in, we'd pop up, we're like, hi, how are you doing? And get 'em their. And so I saw my mom, build her business. She actually ended up selling her business a couple years ago, and she was voted top seamstress for North Texas.

So she's done quite well. That's awesome. But for me, it was just I never. Thought it was entrepreneurial. It actually took me probably several years of being in home ads when people will continually ask you, were you entrepreneurial? And I would say, I dunno, I, I didn't, I kinda thought it was more of oh, you have a, like a c e o dad, and at the dinner table you're talking about like mergers and acquisitions or something.

I don't know. And so I didn't really think about it in that way. And then, Thought about it. I was like, oh, I have done stuff ever since I was a kid. Like I would write letters to our principal and he was so sweet, he would exchange it with I don't know, a third grader or something.

Right. and and then eventually I was like, man, my family would always take aluminum cans. To, go recycle. And I'd go with my dad and get a couple of dollars and I was like, I asked my principal and I was like, Hey, can I take the schools? And so I just took bags and bags of rec. And I got a couple of bucks to buy some candy or something, it wasn't like a need or anything, but it was seeing waste clean

Troy: opportunity that was there.

And then, taking advantage of it. For sure. Yeah, exactly. It's again, going back to that you don't know what you don't know, Eddie. You don't realize, most people don't. that how they're raised. Not that they don't realize it now, but like when you're being raised, when you're a kid.

Yeah. It's just life, right? It's not entrepreneurial life or kid life or, working the nine to five life. It's just, oh, life is going to, going to my mom's small business and seeing that. But obviously all those things have, when you're young, obviously psychology shows that has a big impression on you.

And so seeing that definitely I'm sure has helped you. At least I'm sure, have some additional belief in yourself that Yeah. We can, we can make a, make my own business. That's something people do versus other people who are, like the thought of creating their own business or leaving their nine to five would, would be just so scary that they would never want to take the jump.

Vi: Yeah. I remember when I did freelance work and it was at least nice cuz it wasn't like a nine to five and I went straight to start my own business. It was like nine to five freelancing for a long time and then business. So it was like baby steps. But even freelancing can be. Really terrifying going from a nine to five.

And my sister is a photographer, freelance, all the time with newspapers. And then so was my mom and my sister already had influence on me. And I remember asking her like, Hey, how do you like, deal with the stress of this? And she said, you're gonna have your heart attacks. You're always gonna have your heart attacks.

So can I pay my bills? Can I do whatever? But eventually you realize, oh, okay, the last time I had my heart attack about not having enough money, , I, busted ass to get more gigs. And then it always happened, I always paid the bills. And at some point, you change how you think about that stress Instead of it becoming a, oh my God, I'm not gonna be able to pay my bills.

It's the Okay Vee, it's time to get your ass up and yeah, go get some gigs. And you're like, work harder. Kinda step it up an action. Exactly. .

Troy: What do you see, you mentioned that you've obviously changed what the focus is for home ads over the last six, six plus years that you've had the company.

What what kind of, what things do you hopefully have on the horizon to continue with the growth for the company? .

Vi: So it's interesting because market timing, right? Back then it, the hardest thing for us to get, were hosts to come to our site because this is Tucson marketplace. So you need people with houses and you need people who wanna rent them, right?

And for us it was, oh, okay. Airbnb was. Lots of money coming in. Not that many hosts in the short term rental s c R market, right? And so no one wanted a budge. They're like, why would I mess up a great thing? And then Covid hits, and that was like a hiccup. One hiccup isn't really gonna change the market even if it's covid, right?

It's more of a combination of things and that sustain. The bad is sustained. And so a recession in Covid and also the fact that so many hosts are getting into the market. 2022, we had a ton of market or a ton of money in the market. And so a lot of businesses opened up a lot smaller, management companies smaller, mom and pop type of properties.

Get into F C R. . And so now you're diluting, all the other hosts there. And then you look at,, bbo, all those people that also had this massive marketing budget. They are less so that gets diluted out with a whole bunch of different people too. And so all the players who used to get their, listing, advertisers not getting advertised.

So everything is a little bit less there and people are starting to shift more into diversifying their portfolio, which means having a conversation with a host. Like I remember we went door to door knocking on like we would look. On, public record to try to find what houses are for lease. We were trying to think who would use us, right?

And we would knock on people's doors and have angry people yell at us. And when we got one host, we were so excited. We were so excited. Cause we were like, oh my God they would use us now. It was like, oh, messaged him on Facebook or someone hears about you and then you got so many bookings or so many listings on your site.

But then it's the, oh, okay, it's the marketplace. That's great. If you have a whole bunch of listings, you can't get it booked, then it's nothing. So then we said, Hey let's push on the other side. And, insurance is a really common thing. Traveling nurses is another common one.

There is already a competitor. Furnish Finder does a. When it comes to the medical side. And so he said, you know what? Let's not go that route. And there's a lot of smaller ones doing that too. And so he said let's go towards insurance. Let's talk to them. And oh my God, they were very open to talking to us because they had already utilized Airbnb and they were like, we are not happy with this.

Or V R B O or whatever it is. The short term rental platforms. .. And they said, we don't like it for these specific reason. Can you build this? And we're like, yes, we will build anything . And so we built it for 'em. And now that's what we're doing is we're doing our walkthroughs.

And at it is interesting cuz insurance is not very sexy. It's not interesting, but there's a lot of money there. And it is something that recurs constantly, unfortunately, but it does, right? Because it's fires, floods, that sort of stuff. And. , that's the direction we're going. And to go back on what we were talking about on the DC side is if I had taken money, we would've done relocation all day, every day.

And we were talking to, large corporations, hr, relocation specialists, and it, we just couldn't, bud never really thought. We worked with insurance, but they already said no. And how we spent all that money, we would've just said, Hey, the market doesn't. Versus now we can be like, oh, hey, the market's growing and we're allowed to do this because no one's pushing us.

Our angel investors, of course they want this to grow, but they're, they also invested in us, right? Yeah. Not necessarily, it's a gamble in some ways, so it's a little easier for us, but of course, Our hope is to be able to grow. And if it goes well, then we actually may just pivot only to the insurance side, but it's startups.

So you never know.

Troy: With the insurance, does it, is it tricky at all? So is it primarily like big event? , like big, bigger catastrophe events? Or is it just the more, the one-off types of things, again, of water pipe leaking, you're gonna need to, spend a couple months of getting your house repaired for that fire, those kind of things.

More so it's more one-offs. Cause I would think like with the, if it was more larger events again, hurricanes in Florida or tornadoes somewhere, that, that would be a little bit trickier to do that just because you, that the spot that needs. the HO housing probably change would change all the time.

Cuz most people aren't probably gonna move, from Oklahoma Exactly. To Boston for the, for the six months. Yeah. That their house gets rebuilt and like Exactly. It's hard to have specific hosts, like we need mobile hosts that can go to all these different places. So it's probably, yeah,

Vi: that, that was actually what we tried doing back then.

Was there, I forgot what it was, I think it was flooding or something. . And we're like, Hey, we can help. And we realized, oh. , everyone around you is also flooded. Like you're gonna have to move significantly further than where you wanna be. Versus here. Yes. One of the ideal situations for insurance is to be able to look at an address and be like, Hey, what are all the addresses of the listings we have access to?

And then they can run like comps on it, right? You can't do. with a short-term rental site because everything is made sure that hey, you cannot get address. It is the safety of it, but it's also because they run as a consumer platform. Sure. If we transition it is, hey, we partner directly with the insurance companies so that they can have that access.

But it's also, just making sure that they get everything they need, but at the same time they'll host Win-win situation basically.

Troy: Sure. They have the security that not everyone in the world knows.

Vi: Yeah, exactly.

Troy: No, I say that's an interesting market that I wouldn't necessarily have have.

Yeah. have considered either right off. It makes a lot of sense, but it's again, not something that you would it's not. , unless you're in the insurance world, it's probably not something that,

Vi: yeah. It's not something where you're like, I wanna start something. I'm gonna start this like that.

It doesn't come about in that situation.

Troy: Yeah that's very interesting. So what are some ways that people can find out more about you and the company?

Vi: So right now we are running the beta with the insurance company. So we are, we're keeping our host updated. We actually have a site.

If you go down or a landing page, if you go down on the bottom of our footer, there's a preferred host program. And that's a good way to apply with us. And then from there we, we, we've kept some of it. where the hosts are updated on like a Facebook group. So it's like very hands-on high touch because it is one of those things of, Hey, we'll build if we see a need, but we won't know if there's a need unless we're talking to you.

So it, it is a very like, high touch situation now. Yeah. Even with the insurance company, you're like, Hey, you don't have to have the payments set out. We'll send you a check and we will, and so it really. The early stages. Again, it's weird because we've been, alive and working for a long time.


Troy: stages. Yeah. Again, it's, it is taken a step back, but it's the right step back. But it is like you're Exactly, I'm sure it does feel starting over, which again, it the

Vi: beginning again. Yeah. . Yeah, exactly.

Troy: But with all the knowledge that you've had over the last few years and and a market.

Exactly. And the, hopefully at least some of the. Insights to product market fit that you didn't have initially as well.

Vi: Yeah, it's, it is knowledge and it's also access, right? Is coming from media. I really didn't know a lot of people . And, that's why accelerators exist. That's why all these things is oftentimes it really is network.

  1. Quote or saying is your network. Or your network is your network. So essentially who you know, really makes things go so much faster. Yeah. And I'm grateful that it's funny because a lot of people will tell me, I'll introduce them to someone I know or, will have something working and they'll.

Oh my gosh. How did you meet him or her? And I'd say, oh they rejected me for investment years ago, , but then they still got to know me. Sure. And that is the benefit of actually going down that route of like actually fundraising and things like that is I got to know a lot of great people and built my network of.

Troy: Nice. Yeah. I say yeah, that's, it's as, as much as the world going back to the whole zoom type of stuff, as much as the world becomes more and more digital and online and stuff, the relationships that you have with people really still have an outsized impact on life and success as

Vi: well too.

Yeah. Yeah, it's def it's definitely helpful too, is because, when you're around for this long, I'm not sure if you've read Adam Grant's book give and Take. I believe it's called. and it's about people who give, people who take and people who match, meaning I give you something, you, you match me and gimme something back.

And I used to get so frustrated because I tended to be a giver, right? And I would see people who, especially on the startup side of things, who would bake their numbers or pitched really, gregarious and I would just think oh my God, they're getting investment and it's fake.

I'm doing it right. We have decent profit margin, we have revenue, all this stuff, and I just don't get it. And I think that's what it means too in this situation is yeah, they rejected me, but the people that let's say weren't so great that got investment died off a long time ago and they never came back with, you can't.

Sometimes you just gotta start from the bottom and build your reputation. And if that means a lot of rejections, a lot of hard work without a lot of help you build that network and you build your relationship and

Troy: reputation and you can't, like I say, your reputation is hard to build and easy to break, but it's Doing, doing the right thing is always the right thing. It's just sometimes in the very micro moments, it doesn't always feel that way. Exactly. It really does. a difference long term. For sure. For sure. appreciate you taking the time to, to jump on and do the podcast with me. Hopefully you get to, of.

maybe get outside and enjoy a little bit of the sunshine, or at least have, at least you're working in an office where you can have some of the sunshine and make it seem

Vi: good. Yeah. Hopefully the allergies don't care. I've been dying from allergies as well, so

Troy: unfortunately, I have.

Definitely avoided some opportunities to do things outside because I was like, ah, I just know that it's gonna be one of those 12 or 24 hours where you're just gonna be out of it and a little, maybe not miserable, but like you're just not gonna feel as good and not gonna be as productive.

And so I was like, as much as it , as much as there's a little part of me that it pains to say, nah, I don't think I'm gonna do that. I know that it's been probably the right call. And I've again, the right thing was the right thing, and so its the right,

Vi: yeah. I made that mistake a couple of days ago and I'm barely recovering from it now, and that's why I'm like, I'm gonna stay indoor , like I'm gonna stay

Troy: inside.

I've been working well, getting things done, being exactly, being productive, and I know if I go outside, it'll be a fun couple of hours, but then it'll be days of like slowly ramping back up. Yep. Hopefully hopefully we'll get some rain and that'll start to subside soon as well too. So again, appreciate you taking the.

Thank you, Troy. Awesome everyone. Hope you have a wonderful day.

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