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StreetAdvisor - Your Street, Your Voice

Today we explore an exciting venture in the Real Estate Industry - StreetAdvisor.com.au. It was co-founded in 2007 by Adam Spencer from Melbourne, Australia.

In a recent email-based interview with Adam, he gave insights into his venture and how he is progressing with it. This is what he has to say:

• Please tell us about yourself, your background and interests?
My name is Adam Spencer, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of StreetAdvisor.com.au

• Please tell us about your venture/company?
StreetAdvisor.com.au is a website devoted to helping people find the best place to live, it’s as simple as that. We have reviews of streets, cities and neighbourhoods from all around the world written by locals in the area. We also have photos, videos, guidebooks, forums and much more.

• Who are the people behind this and how it started?
Jason Spencer (Co-Founder and co-CEO) and I came up with the idea for a website about helping people find the best place to live. It was an idea born out of frustration with our own streets. We thought it would be great if there were a resource that told you what was great, or not so great about the streets people were living in.

• How long it took before it was up and running?
We had about 6 months of basic planning and dev before it was up and running. We felt it was important to get the site live very quickly and make updates often. We launched with a basic database of streets and a review process. That was about it. As you can imagine after about 18 months, the site looks a lot different now and has much more content.

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
Find, share and chat about the best place to live.

• What services it provide for consumers or customers?
Our mantra “Find, share and chat about the best place to live” can really be broken up into three main areas of StreetAdvisor. First of all, people can “find” street reviews, city reviews, photos videos, maps etc. Then people can “share” their own experiences of what life is like where they live, lived previously or have simply visited. Finally, people can “chat” about the best places to live through our recently launched forums or ask questions about existing reviews.

• What type of customers you are targeting?
Mostly home buyers, renters and sellers. This encompasses a lot of people. This is one of the main reasons we have partnered with some big players in the real estate space such as Realestate.com.au, X Inc Mortgage Brokers, RP Data and Option Valuation Group.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
Mostly through word of mouth. We have tried radio advertising, competitions etc but the real key here is to give something to people to talk about with their friends. That’s the cheapest and best way I know how to get people to use your product.

• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
Measuring the success of a website is tough because it really depends on what you are trying to achieve. StreetAdvisor is a long-term venture for us. Getting all the content we need is going to take time, and the key is to have enough capital to make sure you survive the long haul. Luckily we have more than enough capital to keep StreetAdvisor moving forward for a very long time.
In terms of monitoring progress, as long as we have one more review or photo each day, then it’s good progress. Lucky for us we get hundreds of new pieces of content daily, so each day is good for us.

• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
2 ways.
  • Advertising on StreetAdvisor
  • Later in the year, we are going to release a special version of StreetAdvisor that can enable larger companies to use StreetAdvisor data. That’s about all I can on that for the moment.
• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
There isn't really anyone else focusing on the street level, so it’s hard to identify with any competition. Ultimately there are several neighborhood sites out there, but no one at the street level.

• What are the main technologies used behind this venture?
  • Microsoft .Net 3.5
  • Microsoft SQL2008 (Spatial Extensions)
  • Microsoft Mappoint
  • Google Mapping
• What has been the easiest to use, out-of-the-box and helpful technology?
All the tools we use have been extremely easy to use. Nothing has been too difficult from memory.

• Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
Nope

• What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
Windows Server 2003\2008 and Database is SQL 2008

• What's your thought on being an entrepreneur? How tough it is to start a venture in Australia?
Being an entrepreneur, it’s kind of like going on a date with a cute girl. It’s scary, exciting, daunting, and thrilling, but at the end of the day you love it and you always go back for more.
I don’t think being in Australia is any different to being in America. A good idea is a good idea, no matter what country you are in. I suppose there is a lot less competition in Australia, but as I said, a good idea will work no matter what the location.

• What's your thought on the start-up culture and innovation coming out of Australia?
To be honest, I don’t know of too many start-ups coming out of Australia. Maybe I just don’t read the news enough, or there isn’t enough exposure for growing Australian startups.

• How do you see the evolution towards mobile platforms.
I don’t think it’s any secret that Apple has changed the game with the iPhone. Companies are scrambling to get their apps on the iPhone and with good reason…it’s extremely useable. Over the next 10 years, mobile will expand as the platform becomes more reliable, faster and cheaper. I’m very excited about this.

It would be interesting to see if we could get a “Silicon Valley” going here in Australia. There isn’t really a hub of technology as such yet here in the country. Perhaps the government could offer funding breaks for start-ups in Victoria.

• If you are allowed to change the nation, what 3 things you will do?
  • Better Internet Speeds.
  • Media law reform so Australia gets more online content.
  • Can’t think of another – I love this country!
• How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up? Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
Nope

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
You haven’t lived until you have tried. You will be amazed at how much you will learn by doing your own venture, regardless if it is a success or not. Go for it.

Thanks, Adam for sharing your thoughts with us. All the best for the future.

For coverage on other Australian startups, innovation, and tech trends, check this out and our coverage on interviews can be found here

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