Ep. #1239 - From Immigrant to Series B
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Matt Watson and Steve Satoru Naito, Co-founder and CEO of Anyplace. They explore Steve’s journey from immigrant to Series B and the creation of digital nomad accommodations. Steve and Matt share insights into the unique challenges faced as first-time entrepreneurs. They delve into the shifting focuses between Series A and B and the intricate dynamics of supply and demand in the short-term rental market.
Covered In This Episode
Moving to another country is stressful enough, let alone starting a business as an immigrant. However, Anyplace’s Steve Satoru Naito had a plan. With $5,000 in his pocket, he provided housing for Japanese students and honed his English by interviewing people on TechWatch. Soon enough, he had enough money and experience to launch his housing platform Instabed, now known as Anyplace.
Listen to Matt and Steve discuss Steve’s first experiences in the US as an immigrant and come about. Steve explains how Anyplace came about and how much it costs to stay in one of its rentals and hotels. He also shared the challenges he faced raising funds as a first-time startup founder and the different focus of Series A and B rounds.
The conversation turns to the technical and marketing aspects of running Anyplace. They talk about the business model, launching the app, and promoting Anyplace. Matt and Steve discuss supply and demand in the short-term rental market and expansion plans and challenges for Anyplace. The episode winds down with Steve recounting the most surprising thing he experienced as a first-time entrepreneur.
Raising funds is one of the most critical aspects of being a startup founder. Join the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now to learn how Steve managed it.
- Steve’s story from being an immigrant to becoming an entrepreneur (2:13)
- How did Anyplace come about? (4:32)
- How much does Anyplace cost? (8:38)
- The fundraising experience as an immigrant to Series B (10:45)
- The different focus of Series A and B rounds (14:11)
- Anyplace’s business model (16:57)
- Launching a concierge app (19:04)
- Selling and promoting Anyplace (22:06)
- Supply and demand in short-term rental market (23:43)
- Expansion plans and challenges (28:18)
- The most surprising thing that Steve experienced as a first-time entrepreneur (32:57)
- Anyplace’s planned future (36:28)
- Be flexible and never give up (38:33)
I would say until Series A funding, companies should be focused on top-line revenue because they need to prove their model and whether there is demand for that. However, after Series A, companies should be mindful of unit economics and retention. [Why] are people coming back? How often are people coming back? How are people buying a product? [Why] do people choose us rather than competitors?– Steve Satoru Naito
Finding PMF, Product Market Fit. So, yeah, it’s good. Feels good. Feeling, like, hey, this is gonna big, it’s gonna [be] huge. So, I heard that. I’m a first-time entrepreneur, so I didn’t know this was how I would feel when I found product market fit.– Steve Satoru Naito
Be flexible and never give up. It takes time to build a great product. We pivoted a lot. It takes time to find product market fit.– Steve Satoru Naito
Some people are so set on doing something a certain way that it never works. And they just kind of go down with the ship, and they’re, like, Oh, we failed and whatever. They didn’t realize, oh, we can make some changes. We can be flexible.– Matt Watson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 0:01
And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson. We’re gonna talk about some fun stuff. Today we’re gonna we’re with Steve Naito, today. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Anyplace. It’s really cool story from being an immigrant to a first-time entrepreneur who has a great business and recently raised a Series B. So we’re talking about his journey. And, today, I think he’s actually sleeping in his competitors’ house, which I think is going to be a fun, a fun part of the story. You know, he has a great business helping some digital nomads, like him, I think, go all over the US and work remotely. And, you know, I would love to travel the world and do that it’d be fun for some people. And I think that’s part of his long-term goal is company to I’m sure we’ll talk about. Do I remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Full Scale. Hiring software developers is a huge pain in the ass. But Full Scale can make it easy for you. We have a great team, and if you need to build a permanent team to help your business, we can help. You check us out at FullScale.io. Steve, welcome to the show, man.
Steve Satoru Naito 0:58
Thank you for having me.
Matt Watson 1:00
Now, are you safe, where you’re at? Like sleeping in your competitor’s house? Like, are you safe?
Steve Satoru Naito 1:06
I’m safe so far. I usually live in Anyplace, but I was kicked out of Anyplace property because currently our San Francisco properties are fully occupied, which is a good program. And I’m now testing out one of the competitor’s properties.
Matt Watson 1:24
Well, that’s what I mean, hey, if you have a paying customer, I would take their money, right? Like, take their money and stay somewhere else, whether that’s business, so you gotta do whatever you got to do.
Steve Satoru Naito 1:31
Right? But you know, it’s good. I owe a, you know, a lot of stuff from them, like the from the booking process, and the dashboard in the app, and ya know, which is a good investment.
Matt Watson 1:43
It’s good to be, you know, we’d call it a secret shopper, right, like you’re seeing and what the competitor does, and getting ideas, and then that’s always good, right? I won’t tell them. Okay. Okay, you’re saying. Your secret is safe. Yeah, your secret is safe with us and the millions of people listening to the podcast today. So thank you very much, Steve. Tell us a little bit about your journey. You mentioned to me before. You’re an immigrant from Japan and first-time entrepreneur and tell us tell us your story. I think it sounds like a great story.
Steve Satoru Naito 2:13
Yep. I’m originally from Japan, and after I graduated my college, I moved to San Francisco. At that time, I didn’t speak English. I didn’t have money. I didn’t have friends here. I have nothing. But I had a dream. My dream is to build a global product, and I believe the San Francisco Bay Area is the best place to build a global product because there are so many great founders, investors, and talent who have experience in building global products. So that’s why, you know, you know, moving to San Francisco, and let me share one more story. When I was a college student. I watched a movie called The Social Network. Yeah. Yeah. The story about Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook. So now, you know, everyone, everyone hates Mark. But at that time, he was a rock star. And then I was shocked, you know, the set, you know, young people who are the same age, as you know, as me, and he creates Facebook and everyone around the world, you know, using Facebook. So I was shocked. And I know that place of Silicon Valley, and I want to go there because, to be honest with you, 90% of Japanese startups, nine-zero, are copycats they copy US startups like them into the Japanese market. So it’s boring. I don’t want to spend my time on, you know, someone’s idea for that for 10 years, or 20 years. So, so that’s why I’m a bit too, you know, I start from San Francisco.
Matt Watson 3:57
So did you. So when you go to college, did you study business or entrepreneurship or any of those kinds of things? Or what did you study?
Steve Satoru Naito 4:05
I studied economics. I was an average student. Yeah.
Matt Watson 4:09
Okay. So you came to San Francisco to live the dream now? You know, I guess, I don’t know. 100 years ago, whatever had been the gold rush, right? Everybody was going to find gold but you’re going there to start a company which is awesome. So how did you end up with this business idea? How did you get to Anyplace he was tell us a little bit about any place first but then, you know, how did you get to that business idea?
Steve Satoru Naito 4:32
Alright, so Anyplace is a hospitality brand for remote workers. We are building the motor work friendly, fully furnished apartment with high speed internet and office setup. Each unit has a standing desk, ergonomic chair with a wide monitor, webcam, mic, mouse keyboard, everything you need to be productive during your stay. You can rent out apartments on a monthly basis. So you can move in and out whenever you want. So it’s flexible housing, that we are currently available in four cities across United States, San Francisco, New York, LA, and San Diego. So I started, you know, Anyplace because I wanted this product for myself. But our initial idea was different. The initial idea was a marketplace that allows people to live in a hotel on a monthly basis. Yeah, so I was, I’ve been a digital nomad for the past five years, and I changed my location on a regular basis. But at that time, when we started our original idea, it was five years ago, I was frustrated about the housing situation. If I rent an apartment, I need to commit to longer term contract, usually 12 months, right? Also, I need to set up WiFi and ugts. Ie to finish them. So it was stressful. Then, I came up with idea and why don’t we you know, live in a hotel, it’s pretty flexible, right? I reached out to several hotels, or Airbnb, you know, vacation rentals, and some, you know, properties gave me a huge discount, if I stay longer, you know, wasn’t 30 days. And we, I first you know, I started living the hotel, and then I was like, Hey, I like this experience. And then someone should, you know, enjoy, you know, the same experience, then. This is how we started our original idea of marketplace. Yeah.
Matt Watson 6:43
Well, so there, there are some hotels that are geared around longer stay right. There are some of those out there that are for week long, week long, or monthly rentals. Right. But there’s not a lot of them. That’s not very common. Right.
Steve Satoru Naito 6:55
Right. Yeah. Extensive hotels that types of categories growing. But, yeah, but usually, you know, they offer, you know, longer-term stay, like, weekly, monthly stay plus in a kitchenette, small kitchen space, right? Not, not something like Anyplace like you know, high speed internet and, you know, there’s standing desk monitor stuff.
Matt Watson 7:19
Some of those extended play stay places I’ve seen before, not very nice, either. Like, I feel like the people that live there are the people that got kicked out of their apartment because they didn’t pay their rent or something. There seem like they’re kind of rough, weird plazes. But you have most hotels or Airbnb, right? They want to make $200 a mile a night or $300 a night or whatever rent. So they don’t really want to give you a discount, right? Because they they want to sell every weekend at for a premium at 300 or whatever. So, they want to block off their whole schedule at a massive discount probably. So, it is kind of its own unique type of of of business. And the other Airbnbs their rent out by the month too? There are some?
Steve Satoru Naito 8:05
Yeah, they recently progressed on, you know, more than thirty days plus stays this area. Yeah. Because you know, as you know, due to the pandemic, everyone can work from anywhere, right? The pandemic has changed how people live and work. So, Airbnb wanna focus on, you know, this area recently? Actually, we are good to partner with Airbnb. Around 30% of bookings came from Airbnb, actually, you know, we list our properties on Airbnb.
Matt Watson 8:38
Oh, yeah, there you go. Yeah, there, there are one of our go to market strategies. So what is what does it cost on average for somebody to rent one of your replaces I’m gonna guess it varies wildly from San Francisco to one place or another, but like, what is what does that cost?
Steve Satoru Naito 8:52
Right? It’s the it depends on the room type and location, for example, San Francisco, so you could rent out studio from, you know, around 4k per month. And one bedroom, I’d say you know, 5k or 6k. But everything is included, like, you know, furniture, we provide fully-furnished accommodations. So and then you can rent out apartments on a monthly basis. So you will enjoy really, you know, flexible type of lifestyle through Anyplace.
Matt Watson 9:28
Yeah. Awesome. Well, I think that would be that’d be very useful for some people. Absolutely, for sure. So did you did you tell me before you went through some kind of accelerator as well?
Steve Satoru Naito 9:39
Right. We graduated from Jason Calacanis’s Accelerator. So Jason is a one of the most famous angel investors in the Bay Area. He invested in Uber, Robin Hood, Calm, and hy also he hosts, excuse me, two famous podcasts. One is this Weekend Startups and second was All in Podcast. So he started his own incubator, I’d say, three or four years ago. And then yeah, we graduated. Whereas he’s, you know, incubator. And then after we graduate to the incubator, he consistently, you know, invest in a company like three or four times.
Matt Watson 10:24
Wow. So you, you guys have now raised recently a Series B. So tell us as a, you know, first time founder, what it was like going through, you know, the seed stage of it, you know, it sounds like that gentleman helped probably a lot through the accelerator and the funding, but tell us about that journey, the fundraising and all of this.
Steve Satoru Naito 10:45
Good question. So let me start with his incubator. So when we got accepted for his incubator, you know, we were working on our previous idea, marketplace idea. And then we had a small traction, like, we generate, you know, 10k per month as a revenue. And then through his, through his incubator, you know, every week, I pitched to, you know, top tier VCs, you know, through Jason, you know, bring every week to like, five or six, you know, investors from top tier VCs, and I pitch to them. But, you know, again, I’m, I’m an immigrant, and then I’m not a native English speaker. So, it was tough. But, you know, it was a 12 or 13-week program, and I’m getting used to, like, you know, I could prepare my pitch. And also, I’m getting used to, you know, what types of questions investor to ask me. So, it has great experience, you know, I’m still getting used to pitch to US investors. And after we graduated that, you know, he’s incubator, you know, they connected a lot of the local investors, and we could raise 2.5 million seed round after that. Then, we accelerated our growth. During the pandemic, we pivot, because, you know, due to the pandemic, everyone stopped moving, and then our, you know, revenue went down, almost a half. And at that time, you know, we were struggle, but we need to survive. And then I realized that, you know, the pandemic has changed the way people live and work. And many people started, you know, nomadic lifestyle, and some, some my friends, you know, rent out Airbnb, but they bring monitor, you know, or a chair into the Airbnb. And then when I saw this, Hey, you know, we should create something, like, you know, what friendly accommodation, it should be, you know, future standard of accommodation. So, this is how we pivot from the marketplace to our current model. And then after that our growth is like, you know, crazy rapid. And then Jason, you know, we, we build a great relationship with Jason. And then Jason really likes, you know, what we are building, and he led, you know, our previous round CSB. At that time, we raised more than 10 million.
Matt Watson 13:33
In your, was at the Series A?
Steve Satoru Naito 13:36
No, actually, like, sorry, because Series B, we did 5 million, 5 million Series A funding and then recently, yeah, we closed 10 million Series B.
Matt Watson 13:48
And so Jason helped you do all that all three rounds?
Steve Satoru Naito 13:52
Yeah, how to pitch investors. And then also, he always like, making, you know, first investment of every round of funding, okay, which is, which is great, right? The getting first check is tough, pretty tough. Yeah. So he could help us a lot in this way.
Matt Watson 14:11
So one of the things I see on LinkedIn a lot is people will be like, well, Series A companies need to do this, and Series B companies should do this. So I asked you recently who went through this Series A, Series B, was there anything like fundamentally differently, like, oh, when we got to Series B, we hired we needed to hire a CFO that was like the key thing, or was there anything really kind of key to you, like, Okay, we did the Series B. Now, we need to do this, we were like, need to do these things differently was was people always talk about I’m just curious from, you know, from your experience doing that kind of stuff having.
Steve Satoru Naito 14:43
Great question. So, I would say until Series A funding companies should be focused on top line revenue because they need to prove of the you know, prove their, you know, model whether there is demand on that. But after Series A company should, should be mindful of, you know, unit economics and also retention, how are people coming back? How often people coming back? How people are buying a product? How people choose us rather than competitors? So, we’ve been focusing on many, like retention products, and then actually, you know, our customers, specifically, our customers love our products. You know, again, we are currently available only in four cities, right? But our returning customers stay with us, you know, four times or five times already. So it’s, it’s pretty high retention rate. And if we expand into more, you know, major markets across the United States, definitely, we will see more, you know, retention increase. So, yeah, so this is how, you know, people saw companies take a look at different metrics at a different stage. I’d say.
Matt Watson 16:05
So, from so now that you’ve recently closed your series B, is there something new that you’ve really focused on? Like, part of that maybe you spent some of that $10 million on some specific investments? Or what what? What is new in the Series B for you that you’re focused on?
Steve Satoru Naito 16:20
Yep. So, one is expansion. So, we prove, you know, our product is working, and also, our customers love our products. So, we should expand into you know, Anyplace across the United States, and also, we should be mindful of profitability. So investors would see more, you know, profit or sustainability of the company. So, our focus has shifted from that top line revenue to more like unit economics and profitability recently.
Matt Watson 16:57
So, what is your guys’s model? Do you buy these houses or condos or whatever? Or are you like, renting them from somebody else? And then putting them the platform like how do you do that?
Steve Satoru Naito 17:08
Yep, our model is sublease, subleasing model. Okay, so we we work with large real estate operators across the United States. For example, Greystar, AvalonBay, UDR, we partner with them. And they, they had more Thai family apartments across nited states. And, you know, by partnering with them, we can expand our units in a scalable way and more rapidly.
Matt Watson 17:40
And you’re another avenue for them to have renters, right? Like they’re trying to fill thousands, like potentially 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of doors, right? Like, they own a lot of a lot of apartments and stuff. So it’s good, it’s good for them.
Steve Satoru Naito 17:53
Right? That’s great.
Matt Watson 17:55
So, do you do you foresee having, like, long-term, I don’t know if you call them customers, or what your terminology is for them that maybe like they’re, they’re almost permanently with you. They’re like, Hey, we’re three months or three months in New York, or three months, and in Miami and the winter and like, we’re, you know, like, you think you’re gonna have some people that they almost they live with, they live at Anyplace, but they’re just always at Anyplace. Right? You have some people like that now?
Steve Satoru Naito 18:22
Yeah, I mean, some customers live with Anyplace, but I’d say, again, we are still available in four cities. We should expand into more, you know, markets. So when I talk to our returning customers, when customers stay with us, four times in LA, where he, you know, goes back and forth between LA and Miami, where we are, we don’t have any, you know, available unit in Miami. So, right now, we are losing opportunity. So, my dream is like, more people live in Anyplace. It’s gonna be lifestyle brand, not just accommodation. Right?
Matt Watson 19:05
Well, I do want to take minutes, right, everybody that today’s podcast is brought to you by Full Scale, finding experts, software developers doesn’t have to be difficult. Go to FullScale.io and put in the time developers are looking for web developers available today and build a team for you works directly for you. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. So Steve, do you, is software is tech like a big part of of your business? Have you had to build a lot of software for this?
Steve Satoru Naito 19:29
Great question. So we are planning to invest in more software. For example, we are planning to launch a concierge, concierge app, which streamline our guests’ stay experience because most of our customers came from outside of the city. For example, if I stay with Anyplace in New York, I usually you know came from outside of New York, and I’m not familiar with the neighborhood and the local stuff, but usually when I moved to New, sorry, moving new unit, I start finding like grocery store, especially Japanese grocery store, I’m Japanese, gym and yoga class, and something like that. But we can’t help, you know, through our concierge app. And then through this process, we can collect customer preferences, right. And then when I, you know, move out New York, and then I stay with Anyplace in LA next time, Anyplace, offer personalized experience, right? So my dream is, like, whenever I know, people stay with Anyplace, we can provide a personalized experience, because we already know your preferences during the concierge process. So this area I’m planning to invest in more.
Matt Watson 20:57
Well, it’s one things I’ve seen about earlier, are there other challenges that these sorts of digital nomads have that you can help them solve? Like, how to get mail? Or like, are there things like that, that you can help them solve if they’re a customer of yours?
Steve Satoru Naito 21:14
That’s, that’s good point. So, our customers stay with us two months on average. So, we have a long customer touch point. So there are a lot of opportunity for us to upsell, like you said, like mail, delivery services, or we can have a meal kits. And also, if our customers like, our amenities, or like shampoo rings, or furniture, or a standing desk, you know, maybe you know, they could purchase through our website, you know, we can promote those items through Anyplace. So this is, you know, something creative way I’d like to promote, you know, services and product during our customer stay.
Matt Watson 22:06
So today, how do people find out about Anyplace? What is your like, go-to-market strategy. You mentioned? Some people find you, Aaron be on Airbnb, which is awesome, but how do you how else do you like sell and promote?
Steve Satoru Naito 22:20
Good questions. So we leased properties on third-party in a platform like Airbnb, Blueground, you know, so I would say 30 to 40% of bookings came from those channels. But for the rest of bookings came from direct. So, when people Google, like, remote work friendly accommodations, or you know, high-speed internet, fully-furnished apartments, we will appear on the top. Because, you know, nobody offered the same experience. We are only operators, so our uniqueness, getting easier for us to acquire new, you know, customers, and recently, you know, many customers find us through zoom calls. This is interesting because our customers usually have, you know, a lot of Zoom calls, right? And then people introduce Anyplace during the ice break, hey, where are you, you know, working from and this is Anyplace, and this is super productive, you know, accommodation, something like that. Now, I’m, you know, staying competitors property.
Matt Watson 23:32
You know, all right, we’re not going to tell anyone about that, Steve, nobody’s gonna know.
Steve Satoru Naito 23:37
Oh, okay. Yeah. So this is how recently people find Anyplace.
Matt Watson 23:43
Okay. Well, I think, for me, one of the challenges with a lot of businesses and so we even have this at Full Scale, at my company, is dealing with supply and demand, right? Like, you know, you have to have inventory to sell, right? You have to have apartment and specific cities. But it’s always a challenge of like, hey, like, how many units do we have? How many units do we furnish versus having the demand? Right, like, Okay, do we have enough demand in San Francisco? Or do we have enough demand in Miami to go to Miami, right? Like, how how was the challenge of that for you dealing with the the supply and the demand sort of it?
Steve Satoru Naito 24:20
Good question. I would say supply strategies, you know, kind of tricky, difficult. Especially, especially like you know, when we launch new properties in for example, Miami, we don’t know that demand yet. Right? We need to test, test, you know, who properties like a different neighbor. The the, actually like our performance, like occupancy rate is really depend on the location. I’d say neighbor, but nobody knows your or
Matt Watson 24:57
Your demand in Miami. There will be no demand for July and August. Just like there will be no demand in Minneapolis in January and February. Right? Ain’t no digital nomad wants to go there. Right. So that’s the other struggle you’re gonna have is like there’s seasonality to this too, right?
Steve Satoru Naito 25:16
That’s true. This seasonality depends on the market, like, as you mentioned that, like, LA is in a high demand season, during the winter season. But during the summer season, there’s low demand. But we offset those seasonality, to diversify our portfolios like properties in New York. We have properties in LA. So that’s our, you know, part of strategy.
Matt Watson 25:43
Was that going to be something you can work out with your your partners that own these facilities and say, look, in LA, we want 100 units, but only during this six months of the year? And the other six months of the year? Maybe we don’t want any or whatever, right? Like, is that something you’re gonna be able to do with them you think is is, is trying to do stuff like that?
Steve Satoru Naito 26:02
That’s an interesting point. I would say, we have said, you know, those seasonality. We are different customer types. So, actually 40% of our customers, a individual, digital nomads, but 60% of our customers are B2B, longer-term business travelers. Okay. Yeah. So they need a place, for example, they need a place in New York, two to three months,
Matt Watson 26:37
And the weather doesn’t matter. They have to be there’s.
Steve Satoru Naito 26:39
Doesn’t matter every year, every year, they need a place. So diversify, you know, not so portfolios, also, like our customers.
Matt Watson 26:49
So I have a friend here in Kansas City that owns an Airbnb property that’s tries to solve this exact scenario you just mentioned, he sells to traveling nurses. So there’s like traveling nurses, traveling doctors, doctors that are like doing the residencies, all that kind of stuff. They have to go to LA or wherever it is, they gotta go, right? They’ve got to live there while they’re doing their residency, or they’re a traveling nurse and they need, like, that’s a whole nother market for you. Right is, like you said, it’s like a B2B, like traveling professionals that have to go do that stuff. So that’s right. But they but they may not be there very long. So they don’t want to rent like an apartment for a year or whatever. They they need sort of short-term rental, but it’s more month to month.
Steve Satoru Naito 27:34
That yeah, that’s a good point. Our B2B customers tend to stay shorter, like two months or something. But our individual digital nomads tend to stay longer. In terms of, you know, LTB, they returning right, so they keep moving. And then yeah, they tend to return to Anyplace.
Matt Watson 27:59
So did you mentioned today you’re in four major cities? Right. And what were those cities again?
Steve Satoru Naito 28:06
San Francisco, New York, LA, and San Diego.
Matt Watson 28:12
Okay, so how many cities do you hope to get to in 2024? What is what is the goal?
Steve Satoru Naito 28:18
Good question. It depends on the next funding. By that we, I’d say I want to expand into eight new markets, you know, at least. It’s gonna be 12 available market in total. I’d like to prioritize more tech hubs like Miami, Boston, Seattle because 40% of our customers came from the tech industry, and all also in the way when I talk to customers, and also where we collect data from our business. Chicago, Atlanta, you know, those business hubs, you know, tend to popular, so, yeah, I’d say no, we should be available in those markets. So that, you know, many people can keep using Anyplace in the future.
Matt Watson 29:19
So if you’re going into new market, is it super expensive for you to go into the market like you? Have you figured out like what it costs to go into new market and you have to hire like a full time person that like lives there and oversees stuff? Like? How does that look for you?
Steve Satoru Naito 29:33
Yeah, so our business model is pretty cash intensive. First, we need to hire someone on the ground, right? Who manage the properties. And second, you know, we purchase furniture items, and there’s a monitor and office setup. So it’s cost outfits cost 10 to 12k. To launch per unit. It depends on the room size and room type, though. Yeah, so I think mainly, you know, these two costs. Yeah. To open new market.
Matt Watson 30:08
It sounds like you spent a lot of time at IKEA.
Steve Satoru Naito 30:11
Yeah, but furniture like IKEA is great, you know, but now focusing on Moina?
Matt Watson 30:21
Steve Satoru Naito 30:23
Personally, I like IKEA.
Matt Watson 30:26
Well, so if you’re going to a new market, like how many units do you need to open in a new market? Like, you’re not gonna do one? Right? So those are like a minimum, like, Oh, we got to do 50 of them are like, what are you? What do you target?
Steve Satoru Naito 30:38
Yep, we used to launch 10 to 15 units, when we opened a new market to justify our investment. But we are thinking, like, in the future, we test out, you know, shuba units, like two or three units, launch first, and then see the performance to line which enable, you know, tend to, you know, high occupancy, and then we double down. So that going to be our new strategy.
Matt Watson 31:11
Seems like you could find partners in these different cities to do the property management for yes, you didn’t have to have a full-time person.
Steve Satoru Naito 31:18
That’s an option. Yeah, that’s a good idea.
Matt Watson 31:21
I mean, there’s there’s a lot of property management people that that work for Airbnb property management, all these things, right? You think the leverage them like send, send them to IKEA or wherever you go? For the shopping list, go buy these things and furniture, then. I mean, you guys don’t clean the properties, right? Like, you don’t do like maid services and stuff, right? Is that part of what you do?
Steve Satoru Naito 31:43
We outsource, we outsource cleaning. But once we have a large amount of unit in specific markets, we are planning to hire in-person cleaner.
Matt Watson 31:54
Right. Yeah, that’s the challenges of Airbnb with like, every day, they’ve got to do all this kind of stuff that people come and go. And so you don’t have to worry as much of it’s month, month to month.
Steve Satoru Naito 32:03
But yeah, recently cleaning cost is it’s crazy, crazy expensive. Like, it really depends on the market. But, you know, for example, in San Francisco, we pay around, you know, 300 up to 500, depends on the, you know, room size
Matt Watson 32:24
Just to clean the place?
Steve Satoru Naito 32:25
Yeah, it’s too much, you know.
Matt Watson 32:28
Holy moly, it’s crazy, dude, I will come over there and clean it for you.
Steve Satoru Naito 32:35
you will be you’ll be super rich.
Matt Watson 32:38
That’s insane. $500 Damn. So what, what has been like the most surprising thing that you’ve had to deal with in this company? Like, what like, what, what is the thing that you never liked? was the most surprising? Do you never thought you’d have to deal with?
Steve Satoru Naito 32:57
Surprising thing? Um, good question. I would say, I was surprise you know, when, when we find product market fit. I feel it. Like, you know, so when we were working a marketplace business, our growth is pretty flat, you know, not super, you know, rapid, like startup. But when we pivot from the marketplace to our current model, property management, slash subleasing, you know, our revenue growth is no super crazy, you know, growth, and then we will see many, you know, happy customers, you know, many positive reviews and returning customers and yeah, metrics wise, you know, we’ve seen revenue growth, we’ve seen high retention rate, but on the other hand, you know, I felt it, you know, finding PMF Product Market Fit, PMF. So, yeah. And also, it’s good. Feels good. Yes. But feeling like, Hey, this is, you know, this is gonna big, it’s gonna huge. So I heard that. I’m a first-time entrepreneur, so I didn’t know this. You know, how I feel when I find product market fit.
Matt Watson 34:30
Yeah, but we all wake up every week to and ask ourselves why the hell are we doing this? Like, yeah, I’m sure you still do that. Right? You still do that? Right. Right. Why am I doing this? That’s normal too.
Steve Satoru Naito 34:43
Good to know.
Matt Watson 34:46
So what is what is the weirdest thing that somebody has done in one of your places? Have you like somebody had this crazy party trashed the whole place? Like if you had any of those like, crazy, it’s gonna happen, right? It’s gonna happen Have you had any of those crazy problems yet?
Steve Satoru Naito 35:02
Um, no, yet we manage. Still we manage just 100 units, you know. We don’t have any, like crazy guests yet. Luckily, yeah, we were focusing on more, you know, high-end, you know, more expensive properties because maybe we had a one crazy dog, you know, dog, you know, mess up, you know, furniture and
Matt Watson 35:34
Chewed everything up.
Steve Satoru Naito 35:36
Yeah bets you know that Kerberos but that’s it. Yeah, not crazy, you know, guest but
Matt Watson 35:43
In time it’s gonna happen. Yeah, yeah happen, right? Like that’s the thing about business is, like, if it happens 1% of the time, it doesn’t happen very often. But when you’ve got thousand, you know, apartments like now one person all of a sudden, like, shit happens all the time. Like just crazy stuff they have to deal with.
Steve Satoru Naito 36:02
Right. But recently, you know, on the other hand, recently, some YouTuber, TikTokers, those types of people stay with us. Yeah, yeah. Also, also famous CEOs, you know, I don’t disclose their names, but you know, famous startup CEOs and executives and recently, stayed in Anyplace.
Matt Watson 36:28
Well, so what is international expansion look like for you? I’m sure you have, there’s got to be a goal here for you to like, do this in Tokyo or something I would imagine it’s got to be on your to do list.
Steve Satoru Naito 36:39
That’s my dream, I want to make Anyplace a global brand global hospitality brand for remote workers. But for the next two or three years, we’ve been focusing with sorry, we will focus on the US market. And after that, we’re going to expand internationally.
Matt Watson 37:00
Well, I love what you’re doing. I think it’s great. What else do you see in the, in the future for Anyplace? Do you see expanding to different kinds of things about building more technology? You know, they’re being able to make it easier for them if they go from one place to another and their personal preferences? Like what else do you kind of see as the future of how this evolves?
Steve Satoru Naito 37:22
Yep. As I mentioned earlier, I wanna make Anyplace a lifestyle brand. Yeah, not just accommodation. So, once we have more units in different locations, we could probably do a subscription-type of, you know, an experience like if you subscribe, and you place for six months or a year, you can change your location whenever you want. That type of product, you know, I’d like to build in the future.
Matt Watson 37:56
Yeah, that will be fun. Well, if you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. We have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. We specialize in building a team dedicated directly to you. Check us out at FullScale.io to learn more. Well, thank you so much, Steve, for being on the show today. I always like to ask people in the show. What other kind of tips do you have for other entrepreneurs? And, you know, you’re a first-time entrepreneur yourself. You have any kind of key learning you’ve learned along the way you’d like to share with everybody else, and maybe it’s just a, it’s just to keep going and keep doing it. But,
Steve Satoru Naito 38:33
Yeah, I have to say my advice is to be flexible and never give up. It takes time to build a great product. We pivot it a lot. It takes time to find product market fit. But it usually takes time to build a great product. If it’s easy, you know, everyone now becomes a billionaire, if you’re a millionaire, but I know. Still, I’m poor. But yeah, it’s, it’s takes time to build a great product. So, you know, but you should be flexible. You can keep it until you find a product market fit. So yeah, my advice is to be flexible and never give up.
Matt Watson 39:18
Yeah, some people are so set on doing something a certain way that it never works. And they just kind of go down with the ship, and they’re like, Oh, we failed and whatever. And they’re like you said, they didn’t realize like, oh, we can make some changes. Like we can be flexible. And there’s another way, and sounds like you went through that with your marketplace idea, and it has pivoted to this, so good for you. All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. Again, this was Steve Naito. You can check him out at Anyplace.com, right?
Steve Satoru Naito 39:50
Matt Watson 39:51
Where elsewhere else could people follow you or learn more about you?
Steve Satoru Naito 39:56
Twitter, now X, or LinkedIn.
Matt Watson 40:01
Okay. All right, well maybe one day I will stay at Anyplace. So, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Steve Satoru Naito 40:09
Yeah, thank you, Matt. It was fun.
Matt Watson 40:11