When I slam the computer shut guiltily because my boyfriend has walked into the room, it’s not because I’m looking at porn. Well, I sort of am, but it’s not naked people I’m salivating over: It’s other people’s apartments.
Confession: I spend a stupid amount of time on Airbnb. While I have the great excuse of living the glomad life and traveling to eight countries in the past couple of years (some of them more than once), the number of hours I spend longing after other people’s homes is a little embarrassing. I will search and re-search an entire country’s vacation rental offerings before settling on a place for my boyfriend and I to spend the next month.
The reality is, I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense! As much as I love to find cheap vacation rentals, I have too much work to lose five hours on Airbnb and all the other sites every other month. That’s why, from now on, I’m going to use Zilyo, a site that aggregates aaaaallll of the other ones. They have over two million listings so while I’ll still have access to all of the options, I at least won’t have to toggle between eight different sites to get the apartment of my dreams.
Co-founder Ovidiu Mija spoke with us about his struggles getting Zilyo off the ground, what he learned, and also gave perhaps the funniest answer I’ve ever heard to our “What five websites can’t you live without?” question. Keep reading; this dude is both insightful and hilarious.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
It’s simply the biggest index of short term rentals on the interwebz! Nobody has ever reached 2 Million listings and we’re just starting. The site has a seamless user experience, inspired from all the providers and competitors based on user demand.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Oh that’s quite a story. We summarized it in this blog post.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first computer was a 4.86 running at 33Mhz by default, or 66Mhz in Turbo mode. I was around 9 years old when I first went online and I was hooked right away.
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I start at around 10am and finish at around 2am the next day. That makes it about 16 hours of work daily.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
Randomly. It just happens. I lift my head up and look at the sky in awe as I feel connections happening in my brain. Every. Damn. Time. Then I say out loudly: “How did I not think of this sooner?”
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
My co-founder once told me: “If you don’t risk it, you ain’t gonna get the biscuit.”
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
We just dropped out of college. We didn’t have a thing in our name. Literally. Nothing. Had to start in our parent’s basement. First time we were able to rent a small room that we called ‘our office,’ we ended up picking up broken desks from the garbage to have something to work on. It was tough but we kept at it.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
I cuss a lot when I’m frustrated. Not the best way to deal with it but hey…what the hell.
My biggest professional frustration is having to deal with investors. I hate having to depend on people, even more for money. Pitching them feels like begging for money. So I prefer to make them think they’re missing out. Worked a couple of times.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
Snacks powers the insipiration, RedBull fuels it and Paul Graham drives it. The rest is all about the users.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money, man?
Angels, man. Angels. They believed what I threw at them. Looking back… I couldn’t believe it myself. This was, of course, after many months of bootstrapping.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Yes. Ramen noodles and subway sandwiches. Keep your partners close but keep your engineers closer. You’d be surprised how many things you can get for free if you just ask. So get your head out of the sand and get out there.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Stop saying ‘what if’ and just let it happen. The only thing you’ll regret is not doing it sooner.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Reddit cause it goes well with morning coffee
- Hackernews cause it goes well with office morning coffee
- Spotify (not technically a website but I’d start smashing things if I couldn’t get on Spotify)
- Google Drive cause the amount of documents I have to share daily are over 9000
- The 5th one is NSFW so I won’t mention it
Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
Switzerland. Cheese, Alps and more cheese.
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
I’m not really twitter twatting.
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
200K funding, a few million visitors, 2 million listings, over 100K bookings.
Where can our readers find you?