Solas.ca hopes to change the way we all rent property. Launched in February, the site aggregates Toronto rental listings from places like Craigslist, Kijiji and oodle. Solas hopes to stand out from the competition with a clean, attractive design, and by offering a wide variety of listings–both long and short term, shares, vacation. Even parking spaces! Once they catch on in Canada, the team hopes to bring Solas to a city near you.
Co-founder John Kelly didn’t let his Internet inexperience deter him from pursuing a vision. Instead, he began building the business using his experience in property development and old fashioned bootstrapping. He sat down for a chat with KillerStartups, and made us feel right at home.
How long have you been an Internet entrepreneur?
For me, this is my first step into the Internet. I am only learning how to code right now. Before this I was involved in property development in Ireland. For my partners Dan & Conor, they have been involved since they came out of college, 5/6+ years ago: Dan working with various tech companies based in Dublin’s digital hub and Conor creating some apps of his own.
Where does the Solas.ca team work? What hours?
We all work from our homes, but with no set time. We shoot for milestones, which we set every few weeks and months instead of accumulating hours.
When do your best ideas come to you?
Ideas strike each of us at the most random times. For me personally, I find my mind is at its most free after I have worked out. If I am not at all active in a day, I feel tight and unable to be creative.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
The day is generally spent in the house. My desk ends up not being used that much, but it is an accumulation of magazines and documents from my property development job. Work for Solas.ca tends to take place where ever I set-up with my laptop, be that the desk, table or couch.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Started the company with 2 people, and now there are 3 of us.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games?
People who display dedication to their passion. Specifically in my life, that is people in the Crossfit community and Brazilian jiujitsu community. But anyone who shows dedication is an inspiration to me.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded?
Completely self-funded to this point.
A lot of people have big ideas. What drives you to realize yours?
The 3 of us as a team made us accountable to each other, so that stopped any of us from letting it fizzle out. I think that is central to following through on things in all aspects of life. Tell lots of people and have yourself feel embarrassed if you do not follow through.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
In the words of Winston Churchill: “If you are going through hell, keep going.”
Who has been your biggest cheerleader?
My wife and my brother. People can struggle with understanding the power of the Internet and not place as much value on something because it is not a physically tangible thing like a building or a product.
Any facts or figures you’d like to share?
No income of any kind yet. Our business model is to become popular in Canada by offering a quality site. Once we have established solid traffic to the site, landlords will want to advertise directly with us. At that point, we can then charge them a fair price and start making some money.
No revenue will come from outside ads on the site (e.g. Google Adsense), we are committed to keeping the site as clean and simple as possible.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Hopefully as the most popular rental website in Canada, making the word Solas synonymous with renting.
Anything else we should know about what makes you and your company so special?
Everything that has been done to date has happened over Skype with each of us in different cities–an example of how geography should no longer limit how or where you do business.
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/Solas.ca
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/SolasCanada
Blog – http://blog.solas.ca/