Interview With Bo Abrams
Describe your product or service:
“Kommu is a network that allows users to 1) discover and coordinate travel with friends and connections, and 2) propose home exchanges within their personal trusted networks to travel more affordably.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“To elevate the experience of living, traveling, and working through connection and the power of ‘Kommunity.’ Share your place with your trusted network to unlock a world of travel possibilities.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“We have raised $250,000 in our pre-seed round and are aiming to close our funding round by the end of September.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“It's me and my co-founder & CTO, Gus. We met in business school as friends. We discussed our frustration that vacation rentals were so expensive and that we couldn't list our spot to recoup costs as renters. We started out as a home swapping platform and then iterated from there!”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“We ran an alpha and beta and found it difficult to facilitate swaps as a swapping platform because even verified, trusted members didn't trust strangers to stay in their homes. We found a better way and a larger opportunity to centralize our networks and leverage our homes as an asset in our trusted network. Also, we realized that there was no source of truth for where our friends lived across the globe. Kommu simply solves the latter problem and unlocks inventory for the home exchanges through us sharing our trip details with our networks.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“‘Komu’ is Icelandic for ‘arrival.’ We added the extra ‘M’ because it plays well into what we are building/revealing — a ‘Kommunity.’”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I did not! I went to business school to be a venture capitalist, and Gus attended to become a product manager. But once we ideated and ran some tests, we knew that we were onto something big and that we would learn the most by trying to build Kommu.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“It's terribly difficult to build a two-sided marketplace and to validate a concept pre-product. We had to do things that didn't scale and play swap concierge for a bit. But once we figured out the tools that we could use to test and iterate concepts before building, we knew that we could de-risk and move forward and build.”
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Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Millennial and Gen Z renters in LA/SF/NYC!”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“We are relying on network effects! To download the app, a user must invite eight of their close friends to join Kommu. We believe that users will gain tremendous value with just a few connections to start.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We have a waitlist that requires a user to invite eight close friends to download Kommu to get off the waitlist. We also are identifying travel influencers who have a genuine voice to see if they would use the product!”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“K factor. We tested for this, but we believe that each new user will generate at least three new users. We then plan to blitzscale.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“Startup Book: ‘The Innovator's Dilemma’
Podcast: ‘All-In Podcast’”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“X Gon' Give It To Ya”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“It's as hard as everyone says it is, but founders create the most generous, pay-it-forward professional community.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I try to set boundaries with time blocking, and I tell myself that I am not going to be a good founder without first being a happy, healthy human being.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“Once we won the largest pitch competition across UCLA's campus, we knew we were onto something, so we stopped recruiting.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I was a camp counselor. It's an exhausting job because you care for these other people's children, and you want to ensure that they are safe and having fun. I learned to be focused, patient, and attentive.”
More on Kommu
Bo Abrams, founder of travel startup Kommu, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.