Acquisitions · Sharing economy

Attracting your first customers in the sharing economy

M Tech startup

Last updated on November 6th, 2017

As a new business it can be extremely difficult to find your first customers. The task is even more difficult with startups that are in the sharing economy as you will have to acquire both the customers and the services.


My question is, as a startup that is in the sharing economy how would you go about acquiring your service side, if you are trying to get homeowners to list their empty/underutilized driveway as a parking space via an app and help them earn an extra income?


Flyers and door2door knocking has proven little to no traction.


I have identidied areas where parking is limited and overpriced. I just need to find a way to get homeowners in those areas to list their space without knocking on their doors as people tend to be skeptical with door knockers (something I gathered from experience).


Thanks for your help beforehand

Curt Sahakian Attorney

Last updated on November 7th, 2017

1. Good for you. Most often people here asking for such advice, hide what they are doing. Then in turn get bogus irrelevant advice.

2. It isn't a good sign that Flyers and door2door have failed.

3. Someone mentioned " online resources such as Nextdoor.com " that sounds good.

4. Someone else said " The problem with your question is that you are asking us to do your work for you. " That I heartily disapprove of. That was such an unproductive comment... in my opinion anyways.

5. Find others who have existing relationships with your target market. Realtors in neighborhoods with pricy or non-existent parking would be a good start. Recruit them and share your fees with them.

6. There are likely others, in addition to Realtors, with similar pre existing and exploitable relationships you can find on resources like Nextdoor.com. Maybe contractors, handymen, property management companies, or ????.

7. In the process of identifying and recruiting partners with pre existing relationships, consider doing a special Equity Crowdfunding limited to just them. Make them both your customers and your investors. If you do well for them, they will pass the word around to their peers. See generally truCrowd's FAQ page for more information about how to do this:

http://help.us.trucrowd.com

8. It would seem that your job should be relatively easy as you need to target areas only where parking costs are very high.

9. If none of the above works, maybe you need to reduce some of the decision making friction for the property owners. Become a real intermediary. You become the one who rents the driveway. You are the one who pays the owner.

Then directly hire a realtor to broker the acquisition of such rental agreements. For the realtor it is a win/win. It gives them an excuse to initiate relationships with potential clients who may want to sell their property either today or next year. And they can earn money while doing this type of prospecting.

The realtors will do a good job of listening to the property owners and will give you good feedback on how to modify your proposition for improved results.

As you attempt to recruit some realtors to do this. Consider your solicitation of these realtors as a defacto focus group. Listen closely to their objections. They will see and understand things you do not. If you find yourself unable to recruit a few realtors to do this, that is definitely not a good sign.


EDIT: Kaila Luttrell's answer below has some very good comments and thoughts.

EDIT 2: I see that Kaila Luttrell got a bunch of up votes. She deserves every one of them.

Kaila Luttrell Marketing & Operations Consulting

Last updated on November 6th, 2017

First, I love your idea and I wish it existed everywhere, even where parking is free but hard to find.


Sometimes, I think the best answers are more questions, so here are some questions (that I don't necessarily have the answers for) that could help:

  • Have you dug into the underlying fears of the home owners while door knocking (or otherwise talking to homeowners)?
  • Is money the most valuable thing the homeowner can get out of this? And if so, is the level of payout for them worth the time it takes to think and worry about letting a stranger park in/block their driveway?
  • If money is not the most valuable thing, what is?

Some of the fears I could see are:

  • Status: Maybe expensive parking = expensive homes, and the homeowner doesn't want just any busted up '92 Honda Civic being parked in their driveway for all the neighbors to see.
  • Damage and having to deal with the cleanup/aftermath: Oil leaks, people walking in the flower beds, cigarette butts, accidentally running into the mailbox/trash can/garage door, loud music, people vomiting/urinating on your property (it happens regularly in Ubers)
  • Liability: what if someone is injured while on the property?
  • Convenience: What if you want to have a friend over at the last moment and now you don't have a parking spot? What if the car is blocking yours when you need to leave for work in the morning?
  • HOA: Is the home in an HOA and would this violate HOA rules?

I think if you figure out the real fears and address them, you can figure out what is most valuable and focus on that in your offer.


This is a great idea, and I hope you're able to get home owners on board en masse. Good luck!


M Tech startup

November 6th, 2017

For all those who have provided me with excellent feedback and advice I appreciate it, and for those who said "you are asking us to do your work." I strongly disagree.


I have already done my business plan, target segment, all the relvant analysis, door2door canvassing etc. including flyer drops in a specific area.


But as you can imagine planning and executing in real life are two different things. You can plan and plan but life has it own ways of sidetracking you, a great example of this is that I have manged to make deals with parking companies (B2B) and listed them through my app. However my primary focus is the B2C as I have struggled in that field hence the reason why I created this thread as I am open to suggestions.


People are still fairly new to the concept of sharing what they own. Someone told me with door2door canvassing, "if you were to offer brand new Iphones for free they would still be skeptical and turn you down."





Sapir Sosnovsky Innovator and Entrepreneur

November 5th, 2017

The problem with your question is that you are asking us to do your work for you.

Who is you target segment? (age, income, location, etc) the closer you can get the description of your target market the better.


I recommend you go to different neighborhoods or find a way to target different diverse group of people (I found that going to where people work or study is very effective) and instead of selling your service ask and TALK to people. Find out who gets excited about your idea/business first once you do write down their demographic and try to get their contact information. You will then be able to hypothesis your target market. Then begin to directly market to that market and maybe offer your service for free. If you still have not gotten any traction then keep going till you do. Its hard work but it'll pay off.


Sometime we over think our problems but what we have to realize that no matter what you are trying to do you always are able to talk to the end user/paying customer they will ALWAYS tell you what they are willing to pay for. Best advice I have ever gotten is "JUST SHUT UP & LISTEN"

Ricardo Grzeca Innovation, Digital Transformation, Design Thinking, Lean & Agile.

November 5th, 2017

I'd suggest you answer a few questions first in order to understand if there is product/market fit:


- Is this a real problem?

This one you should answer by observing your users on both sides of your network.


- How do people deal with the problem today?

Observe those that are looking for a parking space.

Where are they?

What are they doing while trying to get the job (finding a parking spot) done?

Do they drive around the block 10 times or just give up and pay for an expensive parking lot?

Do they account for the time they will waste in any way (by leaving earlier perhaps)?

How much does it cost them in terms of money and distress?

Is the value big enough for them to look for alternative solutions?


- How is my app/solution better?

Answer this by testing your hypothesis with real users on both sides of the network.

Do home owners have any desire to explore their driveway as a parking lot?

What's in it for them?

Is the money they will get by subletting the space enough to make it up for the hassle of signing up for a service, having strangers having access to their property, etc?

Is the number of available spots large enough to attract drivers to use your app? (I imagine that empty driveways would be more common in the suburbs, while drivers would be looking for parking at commercial zones)


Be ruthless.


If you are not trying to prove your idea wrong, you are just lying to yourself and missing the opportunity to learn. You cannot afford that.

Adriana Baron IT project manager

November 6th, 2017

Target those who are already renting their car spaces via other advertisement avenues.

Phil Morettini

November 5th, 2017

I would recommend locally focused online resources such as Nextdoor.com. The folks that will be early adopters will be digitally savvy This way you can start in your own "digital" neighborhood and interact easily with prospects


Nishith Gupta Co-Founder/CEO, uxhack.co - a community based platform for companies to improve UX

November 5th, 2017

Hey Mohamed, I don't run a sharing economy but a sort of marketplace. So getting two stakeholders in something which I am aware of. Will try to share my insights based on experience -


a. The easier customer to get on board is one who earns from your platform - so in this case it will be people who rent their parkways.

In your case, start with one particular location/sweet spot where you believe the demand for parking is high and slots are not easy to find.


Then, do the dirty work of getting at-least 25 parkways available on your app in that location.


b. Once the above is done, then it's all about running ads on facebook or through some intelligent placement of flyers in and around the location about your app with some slots.


Once a single location, some transaction happens and the experience is good. Different marketing techniques could be used.


Hope the above helps!

Noah Healy

November 5th, 2017

The way its usually done is by paying for supply. That is why Uber for example is a cash furnace.

Roberta Matarazzo Creative, commited, engaged in everything I do with passion

November 5th, 2017

I would try social media