THE TRAVEL STARTUP THAT EVICTED THE HOUSE-SITTER
Written on the 22 May 2017 by David Simmons
YOU'VE used Expedia to book the flights, AirBnB to find accommodation, and Uber to get around in the new city and now one woman has added another start-up to the travel essentials category; making sure your home is safe while you're away.
My Home Watch, the brainchild of Adelaide's Natasha Morgan (pictured), is an on-demand service which acts as a house sitter while you're away, without reluctantly enlisting the help of relatives or friends.
More than just a security system, the certified My Home Watch crew does everything a house-sitter would apart from sleeping over; from putting out the bins and looking after your pets, to restocking the fridge and cleaning the house for your return.
The My Home Watch system, partnered with NetGear and Arlo Pro security, also provides live reports with photos attached to maximise peace of mind while you travel to any global destination.
According to Morgan, not everybody wants a house-sitter to come to their house and sleep in their bed.
She says there is a need for a professional service who will come in and take care of things in a less intrusive way.
We spoke to Morgan about the service, plans for expansion, and her tips for success.
What inspired you to start the Company?When we first went to go on our first family holiday I reluctantly called my mum and asked if she'd come look after the house, but she lived 40 minutes away from us and my mother in law lived the other 40 minutes away from us, so it just came down to the fact that it wasn't convenient to do it.
Having to ask friends became a bit of a hassle, so I said to my husband 'there needs to be a professional service that we can just call'.
Obviously, there's house sitters out there, but not everybody wants a house sitter to come to their home and sleep in their bed, its often a stranger that does that kind of thing.
It was just throwing around the idea of having a professional service that you could actually call to come and look after those needs for you.
What gap in the market does My Home Watch fill?It certainly fills the gap between the house sitters and having to ask your family.
There is a need for a professional service that someone who's trained, who's a professional, who will come in and take care of your things for you, look after things like your mail and your gardens and your lawns and your pool, because everything still happens when you're away; your house just doesn't stop functioning.
Thieves look for vulnerable homes that have overgrown gardens and lawns and mail and junk mail lying around.
So it's almost like a security service combined with house sitting in equal parts?Absolutely, we do home visits so we come and visit your home and make your house look lived in.
Thieves look for if your bins are out or not out. And if the bins aren't out they know you're not home.
What challenges did you face when starting up the company?I think my biggest challenge was our trademarking. We actually had to change our name because Home Watch was being used in Australia so I actually couldn't get that name.
The business model's obviously grown over the time that we've been expanding and different services from client's saying "hey have you thought about doing this" we've taken feedback and been able to use that and add them to our service list as well which has been great.
What are your plans for the future?We're hoping to get homewatch property specialists and pet specialists into every state and then also some regional areas as well where the service is needed.
We had a look at another business model that we could've potentially used as well to do this which was the employment road of employing property specialists to do the work, but we thought we're better off giving Australians to buy a franchise, work in that territory, build up their clients,
build up the trust and the repetitive service with their clients and build up that really good rapport.
So our goals are to get franchises in each state, we've set ourselves a goal and we'd like to sell 20 franchises by the end of the year.
What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?I think, my biggest one would be stay focused on what you're doing.
That's probably a really big challenge not to waver from what you believe in and stay focused. And stay true to what your business model is and what you believe it should be.
If its something you think can solve someone's problem then its definitely something that's worth looking at.
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Author: David Simmons