Interview With Elizabeth Becker
Describe your product or service:
“HiBnb is a marketplace dedicated to the growing cannabis community, providing safe, responsible, inclusive accommodation and activities options to guests looking to explore with cannabis while traveling.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“HiBnb's mission is to bring cannabis enthusiasts together to share what they love in safe, legal, responsible environments.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Bootstrapping: friends, family, and close business associates.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Elizabeth Becker has years of experience as a film director, writer, and producer. Her expertise is her ability to actualize a concept through technical and creative efforts communicating a message that resonates with a wide-scale audience. Elizabeth's sister, Diana Becker-Park's superpowers include outreach and connection. She is obsessed with removing stigma and judgement from the world. Shawna Barbeau is a celebrity realtor located in Southern California. She also runs a successful Airbnb coaching business. Haley Boulanger familiarized herself with the now famed cannabis plant through years of cultivation in the legacy and legal cannabis industries. She has also completed a BSc, accompanied by a decade of contributing to the hospitality industry.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Yes, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I started working for my mother's company when I was a child and teenager. My mother ran a thriving sales and marketing company in the food industry, and she taught me that the feeling of accomplishment was the best feeling of all.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“When [the] legalization of cannabis happened in Canada in 2018, I knew there was a lot of opportunity, and I was looking for the right way in. At the time, I was working for an entrepreneur in the cannabis tourism space, and I saw how excited and passionate cannabis consumers were about the normalization of cannabis. At the same time, I have always been a weed advocate. The reason I wanted [to get] into the industry wasn't just for the opportunity — it was for the opportunity to get in on something I am passionate about. Weed rentals [weren't] a new thing — there were a number of businesses already in the space when I started considering it, but I felt strongly that none of them were doing it right. Building a site and connecting with people to offer this service — it felt exciting to me. It lifted me up, and every morning, I couldn't wait to jump out of bed to start working on it. I remember thinking even if there is no end result, I'm enjoying the process so much — it's worth it. Luckily, I encountered many many people who loved what I was doing and offered to help any way they could. It was clear to me I was on the right track and that process still remains today.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“I knew the name had to communicate immediately the strength of the business offering. I was really crazy about HiLife or High Life, but that was already in use. Originally I had HiBnb and HiGuide as two parts of the same business, and I purchased both URLs. [I] dropped HiGuide although we still function with both pillars -- accommodations AND experiences.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“I think the greatest challenge is lack of funding. HiBnb requires a lot of work out of the gate — the site needs to be functional. We need the legal foundation in place. We need the marketing dollars to reach people. Because our business relies on VOLUME. So, raising funds while maintaining ownership of the business is and continues to be a challenge.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“33% of the population in North America are regular cannabis users, although we are targeting an audience over and above the regular user. We want to touch the cannabis curious market, which are people who are more interested in exploring and experiencing now that it's legal but who aren't regular users.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Our company voice is big, bold, friendly, smart, witty, and intelligent. And we're relying on big moves in the media with media attention in order to go the extra distance in reaching people.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Word of mouth.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Number of bookings, number of listings, [and] volume of traffic on the site.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’ by Ben Horowitz.”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“Unfortunately, I'm working all of the time, so I am not able to listen to podcasts.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“I had no idea that I could operate on adrenaline for such an elongated period of time.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“Unfortunately, I do not achieve work/life balance. I try. I exercise every day. I even meditate. And I try to get as much family time and social time in as I can, but let's face it — as a startup entrepreneur — if you don't put those hours in, you just won't make it.”
How do you stay motivated?
“I love life, and working as an entrepreneur in this business is all I have ever wanted to do. I feel so grateful for the elements in my life to come together so that I can create and build HiBnb. That is motivating.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I've made it a point to always celebrate the little victories. The whole process is so hard, and there are always huge battles to fight, so each little win — I always make a point to take it in and really absorb it.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“Being able to offer something that other people can use, that enriches other people's lives. I am proud of that.”
More on HiBnb
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Elizabeth Becker of HiBnb that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.