Airbnb is one of the most buzzed about companies in the travel industry right now, but it’s not the only option for vacationers looking to stay in a real home while on the road. A new company, Love Home Swap, a home exchange club, has almost 50,000 luxury properties available for swapping worldwide -- sort of an online matchmaker for gorgeous pads. So, for example, if you have a beach house in East Hampton, Long Island, you can swap it for a charming London flat, at no cost to either party.
Recently, we spoke to the British entrepreneur behind Love Home Swap, Debbie Wosskow, about her growing business, which is rapidly adding homes to its roster, about her next steps, and how she views the competition with Airbnb.
MoneyWatch: How have you distinguished your company from Airbnb?
Debbie Wosskow: We’re a site that helps homeowners, not renters, take the trips they want to take around the world. We’re also an older audience—an Airbnb for grownups, if you like.
MW: Your company is growing. What do you look for when you're hiring?
DW: At all levels, whether entry, mid or executive, I look for someone with a spark. We hire lots of entry-level graduates in particular, and I look for someone who has bounce-back ability. Startups can be hard places to work. Objectives can change over time and you need someone who can adapt and grow with you.
MW: You’re a single mom with two children. What’s your best tip for busy working parents?
DW: It’s a challenge. My top tip is to get up really early. If you get up really early you can exercise, take the kids to school and run a business. Then you need to outsource the things you can outsource. That was the best advice I got when I started out, from a successful female CEO. There are things that can be easily outsourced and they are the less value added tasks. I outsource things that aren’t core, like admin work or cleaning the house at home.
MW: What has your experience been like as a woman in business?
DW: I don’t really think I’ve come across problems from being a woman. If anything it has been easier to stand out. The big way around discrimination -- and I know plenty of girlfriends who have hit the glass ceiling -- is to be the boss. As an entrepreneur you can self determine. Particularly as you have a family, you get to work out how you work. And that is an unbelievably empowering option and opportunity. I think women are great bosses and entrepreneurs. We’re great at juggling and multitasking. We’re doers!