Our mobile phones are capable of doing almost anything these days. People can buy anything, look up news, watch videos, and the list goes on and on. App developers are coming up with new ideas daily to make our lives easier. Matt Lucido wanted to help with everyone’s daily lives by creating a service app called Porter.
Porter is a service app that provides daily services to your door, hassle-free. Services such as house cleaning, dry cleaning, wash & fold, and pet care. Services that can make life easier to deal with when you are away or at home.
TechZulu reached out to Matt Lucido, founder of Porter, and discussed Porter, LA, and startups.
TechZulu: What is Porter?
ML: Porter is a really simple consumer app, a one-stop shop for booking your recurring in-home services. Your chores can be outsourced through Porter. Today, we support four categories: house cleaning, dry cleaning – pickup and delivery, wash and fold – pickup and delivery, and dog walking. We have plans to launch in-home massage and carwash. You don’t have to do them yourself and you can free up time.
How did you find all the people to do all these services?
ML: The way I think of us is Uber for household chores or in-house services. Uber has built an engine that connects passengers with drivers. Porter in the same way; we’re a connection engine that powers and manages relationships between homeowners or renters and local service providers.
We’re [focused] on onboarding customers and providers. We do everything in house but dry cleaning. That’s the only thing that’s outsourced.
How long has Porter been around?
ML: We started building the product in March and launched Porter this July with a web app. We’ll have a native app coming in a couple of months.
What challenges have you faced?
ML: One of the biggest challenges I have is raising money as the business guy and saying, “You’re going to have to bet on me as the guy that can execute.”
Right now, I’m recruiting heavily for a Lead Engineer, basically a first tech hire. Raising almost a million dollars without a tech co-founder is tough as a tech company. My every day is trying to fundraise; reaching, re-reaching out, and trying to keep people updated with metrics. We are actually hitting numbers that we promised to hit.
We are totally bootstrapped, so I don’t have a lot of marketing dollars to spend. We haven’t had any capital to really test customer acquisition strategies. We have played around Facebook; we are now going to do some Google AdWords and AdSense.
We’re sort of figuring out our short-term marketing strategy that will hopefully morph into our long-term strategy. But the good news is we are growing 200% per month every month.
What about the good times?
ML: We are building a team. I have two people on payroll. I have three sales guys. We have people that are really excited about what we’re doing. We’re getting calls from people from Washington D.C. and San Francisco to have our services over there.
You focused a lot of attention on the visual for Porter. Do you think the main visuals are the appealing factors in digital media?
ML: I do. There are two parts to that. I think design forward companies can get a little more attention and more referral traffic because we focus on aesthetics. But the most important thing about design forward companies is that conversion rates are a lot better. For the people that sign up to our site, 35% are converting into customers. The main reason for that is how it looks; by creating an air of trust with a new company. It gives us and other companies that are design forward a little bit of an edge.
Being a serviceable app, do you see more services being provided through the web?
ML: Uber really changed customer behavior; people pay for convenience. We are at a point now where everything is a need. You don’t want an iPad, you need an iPad. That’s kind of the mentality now. I think companies who aren’t making the adjustments to being a couple of clicks away are going to fall off.
ML: I think we see this with the big tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google. We’re starting to see the combining of the tablet and phone for bigger phones. I think mobile is going to be part of our lives forever.
Google Glass, you can call mobile, wearable hardware. Think devices we take wherever we go; whether it’s in our pockets or something you are wearing on your wrist. We are basically seeing the future happen right in front of our eyes. All those sci-fi movies you used to watch, it’s actually happening.
Companies that don’t see that evolution happening, that aren’t going mobile first or mobile focused, are going to be in trouble.
What advice do you give entrepreneurs to keep their startups going?
ML: I do mentor and advise a lot of young entrepreneurs, especially from USC since I went there. I still believe that we live in an app economy and it’s bad. Everybody’s idea is a non-revenue generating app. If I had any advice to give to entrepreneurs it would be: don’t build, test, and try to validate your product unless what you’re validating is a revenue model because the Snapchats of the world are one in a billion.
Twitter plans to generate revenue by selling shares. Hopefully they do well. Facebook figured it out. Foursquare still hasn’t figured it out. All these companies that are social in nature, really none of them are monetizing. Pick an idea that’s a utility people will actually pay for. Build a minimum viable product and test it out in the market. Do it as fast as you possibly can and get to post-revenue without raising money if you can. That would be my number one concern.
A more important piece of advice – especially in Los Angeles because capital markets here are tighter than the ones in the Bay area – it’s harder for pre-revenue companies to raise money here. Take us for example, we have done tens of thousands of dollars in sales and now we are going to raise money. It’s a lot easier to raise money once you have that kind of revenue. Your team is also a big part of that. Make sure you are smart about who you work with, that you have different skill sets, and be prepared to work your butt off. It’s not easy, but you have to be a little bit crazy to be an entrepreneur.
What do you think about LA?
ML: I love LA and I love the startup ecosystem. I actually think Los Angeles, and arguably New York, are far and away the best places to launch products than San Francisco and the rest of the Bay area. The reason is up in Northern California, it’s a huge community of early adopters and it’s fairly homogenous. In Los Angeles, if you launch a product or a services company and it’s tech in nature, you are getting a better litmus test. There are more diverse communities here. People give you a better feel if your product has legs.
To me, there is no better place to launch a company that’s consumer facing than here in LA. It has nothing to do with the weather, that’s just a plus. We are bringing a lot of tech talent down here. What we’re still lacking is a real commitment from the venture guys up in Silicon Valley to put money to work down here. They haven’t seen a lot of success down here, so they’re a little timid about putting money to work. I stand by the fact that LA is way better than San Francisco when it comes to launching a consumer facing product.
Thanks Matt for your time.