TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based travel property exchange service Skyra.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
Skyra is a property rental and exchange website dedicated to low-cost listings throughout the world. It is a Denver, Colorado-based business.
The founder and CEO, Jason Scherer along with staff are all travelling fanatics and have backgrounds in sales and marketing, with over 40 years in industry experience.
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
Skyra is self-financed through partnership owners and investors. These relationships will continue to expand as the goals of our company do.
What problem are you trying to solve?
As travellers ourselves, the staff at Skyra developed our website to promote low-cost travel while providing a means to rent and exchange property throughout the world.
We want to offer a site that gives property owners more options than the competition while not breaking the bank.
Describe the business, core products and services?
Skyra is a property rental and exchange website that offers FREE listings for customers to post their property. Unlike other property exchange websites, Skyra offers customers the option to use their properties as rentals or exchanges.
We also offer last-minute rentals and exchanges and a marketing feature that will distinguish your property from others.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
We have marketed our site toward active travellers and rental companies that want to offer an inexpensive means to promote their properties for income or utilize them to travel nationally or internationally.
Specifically, we want to market this site to people who have a love for travelling like we do!
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
Before releasing our beta version of the website, we test marketed the concept to potential users to make sure the product experience was intuitive and versatile.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Our business model for revenue will be dependent on user purchases of extra pictures and the marketing tool. We believe that enough users will see the benefit of self marketing that they will make the investment in buying additional pictures to the seven that are initially free.
Also, the marketing tool will offer front page marketing, additional picture advertisement, and Top listings during property searches.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- We are hungry for success. Further, we feel like we are the only company that currently offers the ability to both market properties as exchange or rentals. Finally, we are the only company offering free one-year memberships.
- Skyra at launch will have a limited market percentage and market base. Also, we have limited funding for marketing ourselves as we launch this site. This will limit our exposure to customers at launch.
- There is a huge national and international potential for customers. Also, as the economy continues to slow, we hope that more property owners will want to make income off their vacation properties. Also, we hope that more people will be looking for lower cost sites to advertise their properties.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Companies like AirBnb, Homeaway, and HomeExchange already have a secure place in the market. They have more funding and some have gone public, offering readily available marketing and development funding.
The first website design company that we went to said that our goals were too lofty for the amount of investment we were making.
We took this advice and found a designer that was willing to develop the site with the same features at the original price. We were able to actually build more features than we originally designed the site for.
We have been lucky in the fact that many of our friends and peers are just as focused on travelling as we are – so that has been a boost of confidence as we release this product.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
The success of this business will be determined by our user-base after a year. We would like to have 10,000 users by Summer 2012. This will allow users to have plenty of properties to choose from when exchanging or renting.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.