Michael Lieberman At Spend Better On Petting Zoos And Sarah Silverman
If you had a driveway that needed to be paved or needed a photographer for a party, how would you find this person? And how would you know the price quoted was reasonable? And vice versa, as a paver or photographer, wouldn’t you like to get a shot at work you previously didn’t even know existed?
In this very tough economy, SpendBetter was launched with a two goals in mind: To find a better way for New Jersey small business service professionals to find new customers and for those customers to find more competitive pricing on the jobs they have to offer.
Spend Better connects local service professionals with local job opportunities and also provides reviews from members who have already had jobs completed.
SpendBetter is beneficial for all parties involved. In any economy, that’s a win-win. Michael Lieberman recently talked to KillerStartups about going paperless, the petting zoo, and Sarah Silverman.
Tell us about how you started helping people spend better.
My partner, Scott Consentino, and I were college roommates for three years at Boston University. We graduated in 2001 and always discussed ways to make our lives easier.
Recently, he bought a house and started going through the overwhelming motions of having to hire landscapers, cleaning services, painters and so on. And I got engaged and went through the overwhelming motions of having to hire photographers, limo services, djs etc.
Each of us asked, how would we get competitive pricing? Where would we find reviews on these people? And who has time for all this?
So we started to build a better way. And that was SpendBetter. SpendBetter was started to create a network where people with jobs could post those opportunities in an anonymous way and get bids back without having their personal information released to the service professionals. And with those bids would come reviews from others who have used the service pro. It offered a solution that would save time and money.
How long have you been involved with the internet?
Our involvement with the internet started in 1997 as freshmen at Boston University. Hard to believe that we didn’t even have email addresses before we went to college. When you wanted to get online, you had to disconnect your phone and drag the chord to the back of your computer. Phone line and Internet at the same time was impossible. As for type of computer… HUGE AND HEAVY.
Yeah I totally remember those days. I started college in 1995. I actually DID have an email address before then but I’m not sure I used it for much.
So… Tell us more about entrepreneurial life… What time do you usually start work each day? Do you have an office or work at home?
Work doesn’t ever really end! That’s the nice part about working with a startup. However, for email responses to service professionals or members signed up with SpendBetter, 8am.
Wait so… that’s the NICE part about working at a startup? The neverending work? I’m not sure I’m feeling you there, Michael.
What do you do when you ARE able to take a break from work or leave the office?
Walk the dogs! Or I’ve got problems. Poop problems.
Dogs, eh? Tell us about them.
Sure… This first is my favorite picture of all time: It’s my boxer named Truman. The second is my other dog, Remy. She loves St. Patrick’s day. The third is Scott’s dog, Tyson and the 4th is his other dog, Bailey. Between the two of us, its like we have a petting zoo.
Super cute! I feel you on the “petting zoo”… I have 2 lab/rotties, a pocket pitbull, some sugar gliders and a few cats. Luckily my hubby helps with the dog walking while I’m busy typing away all day. Speaking of… with all that work and dog walking, when do your best ideas come to you?
During my anxiety ridden sleepless nights.
Sounds like you need to join a gym or find a way to blow off some steam…
Random… What’s on your desk right now?
We looking at a laptop only. Trying to enforce the paperless lifestyle.
Paperless, you say? What about your favorite book?
Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It’s a fascinating inside story of Wall Street during the housing crash.
Know any other cool startups or founders we should talk to? (Got any friends in the biz? Hook a girl up, yo!)
Heeey girl. Check out KaChange.com. My brother, Dave, started this company and they are trying to lower energy bills for everyone!
Nice name (KaChange), I’ll be sure to drop him a line. So, a lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
Real life experience. SpendBetter connects service professionals with people who have jobs to offer. And we needed a service like this. Scott (my partner) was moving to a house and I was getting married. How would he find a landscaper at a competitive price? Or have someone paint a few rooms? How would I find a photographer for an engagement session without over paying? Or find a limo service at a reasonable price? Neither one of us had time to call 5 different companies, explain what we needed, get estimates, read reviews etc. We found home ownership and marriage to be time consuming and expensive.
So we decided to build a better way ourselves.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Keep pitching to anyone that will listen. If the idea works for one person, it will work for a ton more.
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout this process?
My brother and father. It takes people who fully understand risk and reward to keep pushing you forward.
3 people you recommend we follow on Twitter, and why?
Sarah Silverman – Comic relief
Felix Salmon – Great updates on what’s going on in the financial world
Sammy the Walrus IV –Tracking everything Apple (and other tech as well)
We also love to know the fact and figures…
Right now, zero revenue. SpendBetter.com is totally free.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?
Awesome. And one last thing, what was the hardest part of your startup?
Taking angel investors seed money. Obviously it is their decision to invest and should everything work out, they stand to make a great profit. But at the same time, the responsibility associated once outside money is involved, especially from people who are close to you, adds a level of anxiety about screwing things up.