Research – Research – Research
As I’m sure most of you already know, you should never, ever, ever start a company without doing extensive research first.
The line in a Kevin Costner movie is, “If you build it, he will come”. That’s Hollywood – not real life.
So, how do you get him to come? How do you get all of them to come? How do you build something that appeals, entices, and encourages these young professionals to book with you?
And once they are there, will they love it – will they feel compelled to review it and invite their friends – and then come back again for their next adventure? And the next one after that.
Others probably have started a similar space to the one you wish to create.
So book a stay at their place and live there for a while – truly immerse yourself into this experience. Listen to other guests' comments. Focus on the space's vibe – is it chilled, slack, productive, friendly, efficient, welcoming, or toxic and unprofessional? Is it tidy? Does it smell pleasant? Are you hearing doors banging when you try to sleep?
Ask other members why they chose this place and get a feel of all the positives and negatives. Decide what you would bring from this space to your space – and which aspects you will never copy. Ever.
THEN run a beta test. Invite a few people from your target group to live with you for a week in an Airbnb – in the area, you are looking at. There is no need to have the exact amount of people as you plan for your space – just a few people whose opinions you truly value.
During their stay with you, ask them questions like:
– What are the things that they can’t live without – For example, is having your own bathroom essential? – what about a work area away from the smell of the kitchen, thoughts on privacy, cleaning, etc. – How far from transportation are they willing to live? – Would they choose to live with you if you started a similar space? – And most importantly, which kind of people would they want as fellow coliving guests, and which types would make them want to run for the hills?
For each person, do a follow-up after they leave. Ask if they would be interested in being an ambassador for your project. They would assist with your planning and marketing – to get your space known in the right circles.
In return, offer them a free month in your space when it’s up and running.
That way, it should hopefully be easy for you to get people involved – potentially, these ambassadors will become long-term guests. Since they’ve helped set it up, of course, they’re going to love it.
Test your idea for a coliving space with real estate owners. If you are not swimming in cash, you may wish to form a partnership with a property owner and split the income. If they like the concept and are willing to do this initial trial, find guests as fast as possible before signing the contract – this way, you have some guaranteed guests from day one. Unless, of course, the property needs renovating.
Test out your idea with some potential investors. The idea is not to get investors now but to position your company for investment later.
If you have approached them in advance, they are more likely to want to invest in the future when you need to expand or hire more staff.
And let’s be honest – an investor coming in too early may pressure you to change your vision to suit theirs.