Homesharing for friends

Hey Product Hunt! Thanks for the hunt, Kenny. I'm Jeremy, the founder of BedKin, Homesharing for friends. We've built the easiest way to privately offer and manage free visits to your home for family and friends. In contrast, Airbnb/Homeaway focus on renting homes to strangers. BedKin is different, because when staying with friends: Trust already exists, Privacy matters, Booking is informal, Gifts replace cash. It’s like a vacation rental exclusively for friends, but using gifts and social capital instead of charging cash $$ rent. Invite your friend to stay in your home for a weekend away, a business trip, or just to hang out. We're a small team of 3 engineers, but we are churning out product and have launched a full experience this week across iPhone, Android and Mobile Web. I'll be here to answer questions for the next 24hrs!
Fantastic idea. These sorts of social interactions have gone on for millenia, and you guys have used technology to simplify and enhance those exact same interactions. Will definitely be opening up my home to family and friends!
Why not just use text message to ask my friend if I can stay with them? Why do I need an app?
@johnnyfio great question! after that initial text is where the real work begins. Coordinating schedules, sending home info, gate codes, etc in a private and secure way is all a challenge (and often involves 4-5 different apps). Additionally there's a problem of Offer Decay, where someone offers their home to a friend, but that friend can't use it immediately. Then months later when that friend is ready to visit, they're unsure if the offer is still available. BedKin addresses all of these problems. Offer once, then your home is in your friend's private network. Calendar + messaging + beautiful home profiles all one click away.
@jeremyrwelch @johnnyfio Obvious but important question. My personal experience in the whole "solve-flow-related-stuff-with-friends-and-family-with-a-product" has netted in a conclusion that it's really really hard to solve (akin to a lot of "lets hang out" apps). I can't really put my finger on why it never works out, but one of my theories is that once you start trying to define a solution with a product, it starts to feel too formalized and inpersonal, and it actually turns people off from using it. In a way, texting or messaging, as big of an annoyance it is sometimes (all the back and forth), is the right context for things like this. There's 2 potentially contradicting philosophies at work here.. the idea that you trust friends and family vs AirBnB, but not quite enough to just let it happen without an app managing the process. Rooting for you. Someone needs to figure it out :).
@wuss @johnnyfio All great points Noah. You're exactly right. Took us several product iterations to get to our current flow, which is lightweight and chat-based to minimize formality. Unlike just meeting up for coffee, staying at someone's home requires a LOT of logistics and coordination, but people still do it often. Right now they're solving with text message + email + Word/PDF docs of home information. So we're mimicking the way people already solve this problem, and only adding structure on the pieces that people already formalize (dates/cal and home profile). To the point about texting being right context, it works for the 3-5 people you interact with often, but becomes challenging for the 10-20 other friends that may have offered their home to you in the past, but you'd feel weird texting out of the blue. We still have a lot of work to do. But our users tell us we've already greatly simplified their lives, and with upcoming features like calendar syncing, groups, and more... should get even easier.
Got a few notes this morning regarding challenging international addresses. We've just updated format of zip code and province to accept more variations, and we've changed from open country code to an explicit country list. Should solve all the cases we heard about this morning and many more that we haven't encountered yet. Updated Android version is already on Google Play store, and iPhone version has been submitted and will be up as soon as it is approved (likely tomorrow evening). Thanks again everyone for using BedKin. We're moving very fast, so keep the requests coming!!
@jeremyrwelch have you guys considered using in lieu of int'l addresses?
@willyumchang We have not. We're always looking to find better ways to input and manage addresses though. We started with autofill and search. Then we realized via testing that, unlike most location search where users know Place Name but not exact address, a home address is the one data point that most people know precisely (better than Google). So we opted for a manual entry for now. Thanks for the suggestion!