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Joah Spearman is founder and CEO of Localeur. Localeur has been called one of the best travel apps by The Today Show, Forbes and The Guardian, and has raised funds from Capital Factory, Central Texas Angel Network, Houston Angel Network, San Antonio Angel Network, and dozens of entrepreneurs and executives around the country. 

He has been called one of the top voices in tech by LinkedIn, and has been a frequent speaker at conferences and classrooms from the Wharton School of Business to South by Southwest. Joah was named one of the Top 10 Black Innovators of 2014 by MVMT 50 ("Movement 50"), Emerging Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Austin Black Chamber in 2013, and is a four-time finalist for Austin’s Under 40 Awards. He is also the co-author of  (Univ. of Texas Press). 

Before Localeur, Spearman was the director of operations and strategic initiatives at Bazaarvoice in the leadup to their 2012 IPO, co-founded an experiential marketing agency which worked closely with SXSW and ESPN X Games, and earlier served as a social media and communications adviser to companies ranging from FedEx to Volkswagen. Joah is co-chair of the board of directors for AIDS Services of Austin and a board member of KLRU-TV (Austin's PBS affiliate). 

You can follow him on Twitter:@joahspearman

He will be live on Feb 13 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • TM

    Thierry Maout

    10 days ago #

    Hey Joah!

    It's been great and quite inspiring to follow you, thank you for your time today. A couple of questions from me:
    - What has been your number one management challenge when scaling up Localeur? What do you think are the biggest management pitfalls for entrepreneurs?
    - Your original background gravitates around content, copywriting and entrepreneurship. Have you meddled with the technical aspect at all (coding)? Would you say that as a founder it's been a requirement to have an understanding of what's going on from a technical standpoint, or not particularly?

    Thanks again, I am looking forward to seeing you continuing to do great work and being a real role model to many!
    Thierry

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hi Thierry, thank you for the question. There's a lot in here so let me try to answer each succinctly.

      The main management challenge has been patience. When we started there were a number of other startups trying to tackle different sides to this space. Sosh, YPlan, GoGoBot, etc. Not many are still around. We didn't raise the VC funds like something of them. They raised tens of millions of dollars so they tackled the awareness problem a bit more directly with ad spend than us. We simply had to be patient, worry about our own roadmap, our own growth and our own expansion rather than constantly getting sucked into the vortex of measuring ourselves against what other companies were doing.

      The biggest pitfall was definitely getting baited into pitching Silicon Valley VCs for two-three years. Total waste of time in terms of fundraising but definitely learned a lot of great lessons in the process. Lot of scar tissue there, but I'm thankful.

      I have not done any coding. I'm thinking of learning InDesign and PhotoShop though because design is something I think I could take to a bit easier simply because it's more externally driven. I think a founder doesn't need to know how to code, but should know how to tell a good developer from a bad one. I've been fortunate to learn the difference and correct mistakes around hiring when necessary.

      3 Share
  • PH

    Pradyut Hande

    14 days ago #

    Hey, Joah! Great to have you here!

    With most new-age businesses today choosing to adopt a mobile-first approach, how important is data-driven mobile marketing to a platform such as Localeur?

    Also, are there any specific user engagement tools that you are currently using to drive greater adoption and retention?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Pradyut, thanks so much for the opening question!

      I think mobile-first is the right approach in this day and age, but I also think it’s important to understand how your user behaves and not just how the industry is saying they behave. Some of that is by looking at the data - both in analytics and with industry reported behavioral metrics - but a lot of that is qualitative for us.

      Travel is aspirational. People are spending days and weeks if not months and years dreaming of going to certain cities or countries before the analytics or data will reflect it. Most folks aren’t going to Airbnb’s site or app two years before they book a trip to Asia, but they’re definitely talking to friends in bars and coffee shops about places they dream of going. For us, there aren’t many specific mobile marketing platforms we use to be honest; instead I guess we sort of zig when the rest of the startups in our space zagged…that meant creating a user-driven Advisory Board - 22 accomplished, creative and influential millennials around the world who help us better understand the behavior of travelers and where our product needs to go. We had our first retreat last May with this group and it pretty much influenced our entire 2017 product roadmap. Now we're scheduled to re-convene in early June to do the same thing for 2018/19. Then we try to marry that discussion and feedback up with data and analytics.

      5 Share
    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hello everyone! Thank you so much Growth Hackers for hosting me. I've never done one of these so please forgive me if I'm a bit slow. I'll do my best to answer all your questions thoughtfully.

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    10 days ago #

    Hey Joah

    Can you talk about what lessons you've learned expanding from one city to the next (like what have been the triggers, any gotcha's, etc).
    Also, is there any other company's process for city by city expansion that you find particularly instructive? Why?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      John, really good question.

      Our very first investor deck for Localeur, our original business plan over 5 years ago, called for us to do a city-to-city launch strategy. It's one of the biggest decisions we made in part emulating what Facebook did campus-to-campus. I think the ride-sharing platforms did a good job going city-to-city, too. We fundamentally believed that we couldn’t get quality and maintain it both with our community and our content if we had to play the game companies like TripAdvisor and Yelp played of trying to be everywhere and everything to everyone.

      But it honestly took us a couple of years to figure out how to do it. We spent probably 2 years marketing to travelers for every city we launched. If we launched LA or New York, we’d market on Google or Facebook based on keywords or interests and things like that. Then, in late 2014, we figured out that the key to building awareness and reach was actually in marketing to locals. So we flipped everything and started focusing on convincing the Austin people to check out Austin content instead of Houston or New York or SF recommendations. Then they would check it out and sort of see if they agreed with what they were seeing or not for their own city, then it would validate to them that maybe our recs were good for them to use on their next trip too. That was a real breakthrough for us.

      4 Share
  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    10 days ago #

    Hey Joah
    How did the partnership with JetBlue come about?
    What lessons can other startups looking to partner with bigger fish take away from your experience (other than the obvious bits about providing something of value to them)?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Tri,

      Nice to see you’re familiar with our work with JetBlue. It’s a partnership we’re really enamored with, as are they. It came about pretty organically. We always knew we wanted to partner with a great airline, and I’ve personally been a TrueBlue member for years and love JetBlue. I fly them almost every month or two to New York.

      I had a speaking gig in New Orleans in October of 2015 and ended up meeting someone who connected me with the social media lead for JetBlue based on some things I said at the conference. From that intro to contract signing, it was maybe 5-6 weeks because JetBlue immediately saw the value in our content and community and the brand alignment. Granted, this was our first real partnership and revenue of this sort in almost three years since our founding so one thing I learned is that you have to take time to invest in what you’re building before you can get others to see that value. That’s true for fundraising too. I pitched Brett Hurt, the founder of Bazaarvoice (where I worked before Localeur), something like six times before he invested.

      I think other startups should always seek to partner up rather than partnering with other early-stage startups, to be honest. I say that largely because other startups have the same funding and awareness and product challenges your will have whereas big companies lack the speed and innovation but have the resources and ability to bring scale to something very quickly.

      3 Share
  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    10 days ago #

    Hey Joah
    How do you measure retention within Localeur given that most people don't go on vacation more than 2-3 times a year?
    In general, what advice would you have for retention for apps that might be used infrequently?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Mark Anthony,

      That’s an excellent question. We spent a lot of energy in our first few years trying to appease potential investors who were asking us about Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users. It was tough because we were being told we needed to hit some very non-specific thresholds of DAUs and MAUs to trigger investment, so we’d focus there and hit the numbers but then still not get funded. So I just stopped caring. I realized those investors, mostly institutional VCs, simply didn’t know our space well enough to talk about it. Investments in companies like YPlan and Sosh that didn’t pan out well by VCs pretty much validated that there weren’t any recent success stories of VCs pouring money into startups like us and knowing how to make sustainable growth.

      So we measure retention the way it really happens. Research shows millennials take 4.2 leisure trips a year versus something like 2.9 or 3.2 for older generations so we know we travel more, but a lot of times that’s to places we have friends or family or have been before. People are probably going somewhere new 1 to 3 times a year. That’s our use case. Sure, maybe 40% of our users use us in their own city, but largely we’re going for the person taking a trip to a place they’ve never been and really optimizing that experience for them. We’re looking for maybe 50 to 70% annual retention and maybe 20 to 35% quarterly retention based on the behavior we believe is common for our travelers-users. It'll only grow as we expand to more cities and cover more of the destinations our users care about.

      3 Share
  • PD

    Porus Daruvala

    10 days ago #

    Hey Joah,
    What is Localeur's biggest growth challenge currently and how are you tackling it?
    Thx

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Growth itself is a challenge. Every company in the world has a growth challenge, at all times. Whether you're Facebook or Localeur or the local corner store. That said, growth is not an input. Growth is an output. It comes at the end of certain decisions and actions and investments of time, energy and resources.

      Right now, the inputs we're focused on are geographic expansion, pushing to 75 then 100 cities. We're also focused on partnering with the right brands that understand the value of our content and community and are ready to make meaningful investments to succeed rather than vanity investments to write things like "live like a local" on social media or their blog. JetBlue is one partner we've worked with for years that serves as a template to what we look for. And, personally, I'm focused on maintaining quality as an input to make sure our content is always authentic, credible and curated. The magazine is one of the 2017 investments we made to bring more awareness and validity to the 5-year investments we've made in quality and community.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    10 days ago #

    Hi Joah,

    What was the one thing you did so well that led to your funding success?

    Merci!

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hi Arsene, the number one thing I did well with fundraising is really simple for me: I took a job.

      In 2011, I was running my 3rd business - I had a sneaker boutique, a social media agency and then an experiential marketing/events agency working with SXSW and ESPN X Games - but I was frustrated. I was really wanted to work on something with a lot more scale; something all my friends around the world could benefit from, not just retail customers or agency clients or event attendees. I realized I wanted to do a tech startup, but I didn't know anything about the space really.

      So I took a job as the director of operations and strategic initiatives at Bazaarvoice - at the time the fastest-growing startup in Austin - in early 2011. I worked for Brett Hurt, the founder-CEO, and Heather Brunner, the Chief Operating Officer, and learned a ton in about a year and a half, made some money on stocks, then left to launch Localeur.

      Both Heather and Brett, and many of my investors today, invested because I had the pedigree of having worked at Bazaarvoice before their IPO in 2012 on a lot of the company's biggest projects, eventually leading their travel market strategy.

      3 Share
  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    10 days ago #

    Hi Joah, thanks so much for doing this AMA with us. I'm curious how you realized that there was an untapped opportunity in the travel space? And what was the untapped opportunity?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      As I mentioned in my response to Arsene's question, I worked at Bazaarvoice - a SaaS company focused on user-generated reviews - and led their travel market strategy in 2012. During that time, I attended all the big travel conferences like PhocusWright and spoke to execs at companies like Hotels.com, IHG, Starwood and others about their problems. I quickly realized that reaching millennials in an authentic way that mapped to the local experiences millennial travelers wanted - not the highest-rated place, but the place locals loved - was a real opportunity. Around Labor Day 2012, I left BV, cashed out my stock, worked on the business plan for a few months and launched Localeur the following March during SXSW with about 15 of my friends being the first Localeurs here in Austin.

  • AC

    Aalim Chin

    10 days ago #

    What's up Joah?

    What gave you the initial motivation to take entrepreneurship seriously?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hi Aalim,

      I grew up very poor, the youngest of three boys in a single mother home. We lived on food stamps, my brothers and me in a single bedroom our entire childhood, my mom often working two jobs. I think that rooted a sense of self-motivation in me because I knew I would have to work for the things I wanted.

      When I was in 5th grade, I missed out on a field trip with all my classmates because the $90 trip costs was too much for my mother. I never blamed her or faulted her because I saw how hard she worked. Instead, I started mowing lawns and raking leaves when I was 11, then I started selling bubble gum to classmates when I was 12, then I got a 30-hour a week job at Pizza Hut pretty much all through high school. It's ironic, I know, that I worked for a chain pizza place to eventually become an entrepreneur to support local businesses, but that's what I did.

      After college, I moved to D.C. and worked in/around politics for 3.5 years and learned a ton, but missed the creativity and sense of ownership I had as a teenager cutting grass and selling gum. So I told myself I'd start a new business every year for a decade until one clicked. It was a social media agency first, then a sneaker boutique, then an events business with SXSW, and finally I landed on Localeur and now I'm five years in. It's been a fun ride, and I'm only just getting started.

  • DB

    dean briones

    10 days ago #

    Super great to have you here Joah! I'm from Tx, but live in Cali now...def miss SXSW.

    I'm curious how a multi-market content driven app decides:

    1. At what point do you have enough content to launch (i.e. how many cities to start in first)?
    2. How fast do we build that content and with who do we do it with (local hires, remote research, etc.)?
    3. How do you focus initial marketing efforts to drive users upon launching in new markets?

    Similar to a yelp problem, at what point do you receive enough validation that your content is driving enough traffic to aggressively pursue growth in new markets/cities?

    -Dean

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hey Dean, these are solid questions. Texas misses you.

      1. Every city is an MVP for us. What's enough content to help a traveler have a better local experience? Initially that was 10 to 15 Localeurs in a city with 50 to 75 recommendations, but now we've built a platform spanning nearly 75 cities so we realize it only takes one or two Localeurs and a handful or dozen recommendations to start helping a traveler experience local. People don't force their friends to recommend 50 or even 20 restaurants for a city they're visiting so why should Localeur?

      2. We have zero local hires. That's one of the things we've done better than companies like Yelp. We don't need localized community management to acquire content and maintain authenticity and content quality. We have a 5-person team serving up content around the globe thanks to our maniacal focus on our community and quality.

      3. Our Localeurs used to be folks with 1,000 or 2,000 Twitter followers. That was in 2013. Now, we're seeing more engagement on Instagram, so our Localeurs tend to be folks with food or fashion or lifestyle blogs and 5,000 or 10,000 or even 50,000 Instagram followers. That helps spread the word, because we're not trying to promote Localeur as much as we're trying to promote the community and their recommendations. Even when we share our content with a company like JetBlue, we make sure the Localeur is tagged, not just Localeur.

      Traffic growth and user reach shouldn't be the only reason to expand. We expand because our users want us to. Whether that was expanding to Houston when we were only in Austin or expanding to Europe once we were in 40-50 US cities, it's undeniable that we'll better serve our mission by helping travelers in more cities.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    10 days ago #

    Hey Joah - so cool to finally have you on!

    a. I'm curious as to how you're solving the awareness problem that plagues most travel apps given the brand recognition and SEO dominance of the big boys in travel (disclaimer: I'm the only one in my social circle that's even heard of or used Localeur)?

    b. Have any new(er) or unexpected acquisition channels emerged recently for you?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Anuj, thank you so much for hosting me here.

      Awareness is always a challenge. Most startups, Localeur included, don’t have tens of millions on VC funding to get over the awareness gap. A lot of startup founders spend a lot of energy trying to raise VC money to fund Google Ad Words and Facebook Ads to get over that hurdle; we don’t. We spent $260,000 in 2015 on marketing and only about $15,000 in 2017 on marketing. We did this because we realized that investing in what we’re best at - community and content - means dialing back the focus on building awareness and dialing up the focus on driving quality. We launched a quarterly print magazine months before Airbnb. We have expanded into more than 15 cities globally. We are building awareness by optimizing for quality rather than paying thousands, hundreds of thousands, to get quantity that will get us on the hamster wheel of being overly-reliant on continued expenditures on Facebook or Google Ads. Our magazine is an awareness tool that actually pays for itself as we sell out of each issue through our online shop at shop.localeur.com.

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    10 days ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Joah.

    What can you share about your fundraising experiences that other founders can learn from?
    Are there things you wished you knew before you got involved in the process (for any round)?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Glen,

      I’ve learned a ton through fundraising. I’ve written a ton online, on Medium and LinkedIn, about things i’ve learned fundraising over the last 5+ years. I hope you check out some of it after this. We have zero venture capitalist firms in our company. Every check that was written into Localeur was by an angel or angel group. Nearly 80 angels across over 20 cities around the world. It’s been a real slog honestly raising money from folks in $10k, $25k, and $50 increments. But I’ve learned a couple key things along the way:

      1. Fundraising is about the narrative and storytelling. You aren’t convincing someone. You are getting them to understand your story and then they’re making a decision about whether or not it’s a story they want to play a role in. Often times, the story is about the founder or the industry or the company the investor is excited to disrupt.

      2. Fundraising is very much about credibility. It’s not always about experience either. Airbnb’s founders were first-timers and young. HomeAway had raised over $350 million and had an executive team of highly-experienced folks before Airbnb raised VC funds. But Airbnb’s narrative was so powerful that it actually gave their founders a lot of credibility with how they envisioned the future of the accommodations space.

      2 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    10 days ago #

    Very excited to have you here, Joah.
    I was surprised to learn that you also have a quarterly magazine.
    What was the impetus for that?
    Also, what benefits (expected or unexpected) has the magazine delivered to the business?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hi Dani,

      I mentioned a little bit about the magazine earlier in my response to Anuj’s question, so I’ll go deeper here.

      I think sometimes founders get so focused on what’s directly in front of them; a fundraising challenge, a product challenge, a growth challenge, that they miss the bigger picture. Once we closed the first part of our Series Seed round in late 2016, I was able to really take a step back and see the bigger picture of what Localeur is doing.

      We aren’t trying to be the world’s best app or the world’s best user-generated content site. We are trying to help people experience cities in a way they haven’t before by tapping the knowledge of locals. So once I remembered that, I realized a magazine - something tangible, something beautiful, something purchasable - was another way for us to unlock value for travelers. They could sit it on their coffee table, read it on a plane, buy it as a gift for someone…regardless, the magazine was a way to take the amazing content we already had on our site and app and showcase it in a form that was familiar and off-beat for our space where so many are focused on driving everyone to an app or site exclusively.

      The response to the magazine has been phenomenal. You couldn’t even buy one of our first 3 issues if you tried because they’re all sold out. It’s been a real door opener for everything from new city launches to partnership conversations with brands like Nike and Red Bull as a result.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        10 days ago #

        I love everything about this.
        I didn't even think about the follow-on opportunities it would open up with brands. Awesome stuff.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    10 days ago #

    Hola Joah
    In an app that relies on crowd-sourcing like Localeur, how do you continually ensure that the people and their content continue to meet a certain quality bar?
    What have you learned about managing this critical aspect effectively at scale?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hola Javier,

      Quality is something you can't just talk about, you have to live it. That starts with me as the founder-CEO. I am constantly going to new restaurants, new bars, new places recommended on Localeur in dozens of cities around the world. I'm constantly assessing whether or not we're delivering quality. And we definitely are. We're the best at this in the world. And we've been doing this from a UGC standpoint the longest. There are others in the periphery, but our brand stands for quality and authenticity like no others who've tried. That starts with me being tireless in living the brand, embracing quality interactions, quality community members and quality content.

      From there, it extends to my team and our community from the emails I send to my investors that talk about quality as much as they share analytics to the Advisory Board retreat we do each year to the word-of-mouth nature in which we acquire and engage new Localeurs.

      I have a tattoo on my arm that says "real recognize real." It's a Jay Z lyric and we actually had the line "locals know locals" in our original investor deck because that lyric inspired me and the focus I wanted to place on quality. The number one thing we've done to maintain quality is ensure people's names and faces are on Localeur. No anonymity. No tourists reviews. All locals and people you can look up, follow on Twitter or Instagram, and assess whether or not they're the kind of person you'd like to get recs from. We see new startups like Cool Cousin and even bigger platforms like Airbnb (e.g. Trips) emulating this too; realizing it's about the "who" not just the "what."

      2 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        10 days ago #

        "Hip-hop reference in AMA response" badge unlocked! (and unsurprisingly they're all inspirational).

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    10 days ago #

    Hi Joah
    I understand that Localeur is aimed at Millennials/people that may not want to wade through Yelp/TA reviews. So my questions are:

    a. At what point (or are you already) making any effort to convert people who use other services to recognize Localeur as a better alternative?

    b. Is regular social media behavior on FB etc of people asking their friends (or friends of friends etc) about cool things to do in x an impediment to adopting apps like Localeur? If not, why not? If yes, how are you tackling this?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hi Danielle,

      Here are my unfiltered thoughts:

      Convincing someone of something is futile. That's why I stopped pitching Silicon Valley VCs who don't invest in minority founders and that's why Uber backed out of China and there are plenty of other examples. In the time it takes to convince someone of something, you could have started a relationship with someone who is leaning in and wanting what you have.

      Every single day, I see someone on Facebook write, "hey friends, I'm going to [name a city/country] and looking for recs!" Usually I just laugh because I realize that that person is going to get a dozen or more recs from friends who live in the same city as them and have maybe visited that city/country one time ever. Sometimes I paste a link to Localeur there, if it's a friend, but mostly I think back to the above point. I fully believe that, over time, people will adopt the behavior that best suits them whether you "convince" them or not that yours is the solution to a problem. It's not up to us to make the problem so severe that they have to choose us. It's up to us to deliver a product they want once they have decided they're tired of the alternative/old behavior.

  • JD

    James Dunn

    10 days ago #

    Hi
    How did Localeur get its first 100 users - from the demand and the supply sides?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hi James, I think it's important to look at Localeur not just as a marketplace but a platform. A marketplace has demand and supply, but a platform is a way of approaching something. Airbnb is a marketplace becoming a platform with things like Experiences and Trips. Uber is a marketplace becoming a platform though logistics and self-driving. When you think that way, you realize that your users can be on both sides at once.

      So for Localeur, I thought about who I wanted to use Localeur or at least talk about it. These were my friends in Austin. DJs, designers, musicians, bloggers, photographers, etc. I figured if these people talked about Localeur, we'd grow.

      So our first 15-20 Localeurs in Austin were my friends who were plugged into the creative, music, food scenes. From them talking about Localeur - or, even better, being Localeur contributors - we got reach (through their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to their friends, other locals, likely travelers and potential users.

      We also leaned on my background in marketing and public relations. I think we were written about in 3-4 publications in our first week. That helped us get the initial user base.

  • SK

    S Kodial

    10 days ago #

    Hi
    What advice would you give people looking to found travel startups?
    What are the top things they must understand about this vertical before dipping their toes into this space?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      If you're thinking of pursuing a travel startup, the main bit of advice is simple: take a job first. I can't say this enough. Too many people jump in and try to raise money to pay for things they could've gotten paid for to learn. From there, I'd say try to build a business plan that doesn't require VC funding beyond maybe one round. If your business plan requires more than $5 million in funding, good luck. Travel is not a space you'll find money easily unless you're a very well known person or have some very defensible IP. That being said, I think travel is still very full of opportunity and gaps. E-commerce and social media and SaaS are all way ahead of travel in terms of innnovation. Think about it: you can't go to Airbnb and book a hotel? You can't go to TripAdvisor and book an Airbnb. We're still acting like travelers want to go to 8 different websites to book and plan a trip. The future will look a lot different than it does today and I'm excited about how some of us are making that happen, both startups and multi-billion-dollar companies that are finally starting to connect the dots to enhance travel experiences.

      2 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    10 days ago #

    Got to ask you one more Q:

    You've brought up community a lot in your responses.
    What's been the biggest driver(s) of engagement & growth for the Localeur community?

    • JS

      Joah Spearman

      10 days ago #

      Hello again!

      Yes, community isn't something just anyone can create. Community needs both leadership and engagement. I, along with my team and Advisory Board, lead the community...with our behavior...and our userbase and Localeurs' engagement determines the rest.

      The biggest driver for engagement for us is definitely through brand and social. We simply can't compete with the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp that have hundreds of millions of dollars spent on marketing and paid social. We have to build a brand that stands for more, content that is more authentic and a community that is more attuned to the userbase we want to secure. So our engagement is an output of our focus on mission and quality. The more we expand, the more we deliver on our mission to help travelers experience local and the more engagement we get.

      The biggest driver of growth, fundamentally, has been being what our competitors are not. A community focused on quality and authenticity rather than scale. "Local" isn't for everyone. A lot of people will always be Starbucks or McDonald's or department store people. We are for the local coffee shop, local burger joint and local boutique people. Real recognize real.

      We won't ever have the Search functionality, content depth or community size of TripAdvisor or Yelp. But will you be able to go to TripAdvisor or Yelp and see recommendations from Joshua Kissi, the co-founder of Street Etiquette and TONL or Susan Morgan, the VP of Account Management for Team Epiphany, one of the premier marketing/influence/experiential agencies in the world? No, you can't.

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