What is your startup and what does it do?
LivePhuket is a real estate company with a heavy focus on technology. We provide an online platform for guests that are looking to book a vacation rental property online, find a long-term rental, or buy residential real estate on the island of Phuket, Thailand.
At whom is your startup aimed?
Anyone looking to buy, sell, or rent within the Phuket market. (We also serve Koh Samui and Pattaya in Thailand for holiday rentals)
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
We compete with our competitors on both a local and global level. Local real estate companies are still more traditional and do not use the technology available to them like we do. The global players think big, but do not always think local, this is one area LivePhuket truly stands out – a local experienced team and local customer service.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
We arrived in Phuket to find our own accommodation, and realized what a daunting experience it can be. We felt that there was a clear gap within the Phuket and Thailand real estate market and we aim to fill that void.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Our main concerns were not knowing the local market, as well as being able to find local talent on a small island off the south of Thailand, the latter of which is still a concern to us.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
My background is in real estate, I sold my family’s house when I was 18 years old, after having spent the summer working in real estate and realizing I had a passion for it. A few years after university, I joined a startup real estate agency in Dubai, which is now a market leader there. I also gained experience within tech startups working for a daily deal site that was acquired nine months after launching by US-based LivingSocial.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
All the founders invested their own savings, and some family members have also helped us keep the fire burning long-enough to finally start making a monthly profit. For our upcoming project we will likely secure some funding from a very strategic partner.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Our greatest achievement has been building a product (without real prior experience) that actually worked and that people liked.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
Our business has stayed engaged by having featured enough of the right products (properties) for our users to actually find what they want at sensible prices.
How long has LivePhuket been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
LivePhuket was conceived around September 2013, and it took a long time to shape out what it was going to be.
We are three best friends from London, with a diverse background in real estate, tech startups, technology, and development with investment banking and project management within the private section.
A fourth partner (Brennan) joined at a later stage after launch.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Our biggest challenge was ensuring that all the founders get along well enough to make the business work! We found that its not an easy task mixing best friends and business.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
With our success locally we are now planning to build out two separate platforms dedicated to the real estate and travel industry in Asia. The first Asia.Villas – will be positioned as a vacation rental platform to service the growing demand for holiday markers for these types of properties.
The second product is a platform similar to a MLS (Multiple Listing Service), enabling local and regional real estate agents and developers to feature on one central real estate platform, allowing them to share properties and ultimately do more business. We are also building a big piece around market data within the Thailand real estate market.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
However long you think it will take to build the right product add another month or two!
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Do something you know ALOT about, and ideally have good experience – so you can really beat your competition. Find the right partners who compliment areas/skillsets that you are weaker at.