TLabs Showcase - TrustedHousesittersNewsBy Kevin May | May 13, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring UK-based TrustedHouseSitters, a platform for finding people to look after a home when travelling.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Trustedhousesitters.com allows home and pet owners globally to find ideal house sitters to look after their homes in exchange for providing a comfortable place to stay. This opens up a world of travel opportunities for potential sitters; a win-win for all.Andy Peck started this business after house sitting in an exclusive mountain retreat in Galicia, Spain.The owner was having difficulty finding someone to look after their home and pets, and I (Andy) was struggling to find an ideal house sitting opportunity to screenwrite from, and realised a need for a comprehensive portal that allowed the two parties to meet.What financial support did you have to launch the business?The business is self-funded. Investment in providing the most comprehensive site, ease of use, PR and SEO is key.Continued investment intentionally provides the best service and peace of mind for homeowners, ensures that ideal house sitters join us, thus attracting the best house sitting opportunities for our members.What problem are you trying to solve?Home and pet owners worldwide face a common dilemma when going away; the stress of putting pets into kennels, empty homes at risk of burglary, arson, squatters, plants and gardens need maintaining, and if left to fester, homes are at an increased risk of looking empty and attracting unwanted visitors.Insurance is usually void for homes left empty for more than 30 days. Many homeowners don’t realise this – especially when buying 2nd or holiday homes, so, they need to have regular occupation and maintenance when the owners are not there.This provides security and ensures that homes are kept in ideal condition for when the homeowner returns.Describe the business, core products and services?Homeowners can create a secure listing to find an ideal house sitter, and also search for sitters by location, experience, age, view photos, references etc.House sitters upload this information (the more provided, the more chance of getting a dream house sit), then receive email alerts each time new house sitting opportunities become available in countries they would like to house sit within.This also enables a sitter to enjoy a retreat without the accommodation cost too, often, staying in a luxurious home that may be beyond the normal holiday budget. As said before, this provides an ideal win-win for both parties. More information about this can be found at www.trustedhousesitters.comWho are your key customers and users at launch?Home and pet owners globally use the site. We currently have house sitting opportunities in nearly 30 countries.House sitters are often either retired, semi-retired or can work remotely, or just fancy a different kind of holiday rather than staying in a hotel or resort.House sitting provides a great way to find an off-the-beaten-track destination and become part of a local community.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Yes, we spent a lot of time researching homeowner and house sitters expectations before building the site, and we always welcome feedback to ensure we’ve continually providing the best possible service.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?The business model is to be the best at what we provide, creating awareness of this kind of service and encouraging trial to see the many benefits of our site.By providing excellent service for our members and homeowners needing to find ideal house sitters, our business will continue to grow, and revenue will follow.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Most comprehensive house sitting site offering the chance for homeowners to find a house sitter for free, and house sitters to find the perfect retreat without paying for accommodation. This is very attractive in this economic climate. Weaknesses: Awareness of what a site like ours offers, although this also provides massive potential and opportunities going forward. We are only six months old, but growing fast! Opportunities: We’re only touching the tip of the iceburg – building awareness, getting fabulous new house sitting assignments and ideal house sitters joining the site every day. Threats: We can’t think of any right now.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?Everyone seems to like it – a lot. Initially, cynics wondered who would want to look after a home for free, but there are a lot of very reliable people out there that would enjoy a luxurious retreat without paying for accommodation.Also, some may ask whether you’d want a house sitter to look after your home and pets.Our site features many ideal sitters and with the chance to find out so much information about them and use Skype, or meet up to discuss assignments, it is statistically far safer than leaving a home empty and having to put a pet in kennels. Insurance companies prefer that a house remains occupied rather than left empty because of this.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Continued growth, members re-subscribing following positive experiences (as many are already), and lots more fabulous house sitting opportunities worldwide.Continued referrals from home owners who have solved the dilemma of finding the ideal house sitter via TrustedHousesitters.Here is a clip:httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QREtj8fPm5Y NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.