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SLO Start-up a Net Success

SLOCN Homeslice on BuzzfeedBy Camas Frank

It has been 15 months since the start-up company, “Homeslice,” launched its mobile application with the intention of making life with roommates just a little bit easier.
According to several influential websites and the majority of the 30,000 downloaders (at least those who’ve actually rated the application), they’ve succeeded in becoming a must-have organizational utility.
A client of the Cal Poly “Hot House,” located on Morro Street, the company’s idea first won public accolades as the audience’s choice at the University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Elevator Pitch Competition.  
Company co-founder, Shea Brucker, explained it at the time, as an app with the goal of promoting the kind of openness and trust normally shared by friends, and offering a tool to manage the gritty details of household life.
In February, the website “Buzzfeed,” a company that makes its money by knowing where the trends are headed, for its estimated 20 million monthly “hits,” gave Homeslice the No. 4 slot on a list of “16 Apps Everyone Who Lives In A Shared House Needs.”
The increase in attention was noticeable, said Bruckner, but it wasn’t his first brush with the power of a well-placed web mention to propel the business. That came shortly after the app went live on both iOS and Android operating systems in 2013.
“I put a short explanation up on Reddit [an online message board with hundreds of interest categories] and I was in awe,” he said. “We had 5,000 downloads in one night. I was up until three in the morning talking with new customers.”
Through some setbacks, the company has continued to grow in client numbers and maintain a personal connection with the people who use it.
“Last year was rocky after a great launch. We’re on our third team,” he explained, noting one of the challenges of getting a business off the ground just out of college. They started off getting $7,500 from SLO’s Small Business Development Center, but to really get going requires more of an investment — $500,000 to be precise. “All of our growth has been organic. We haven’t done any advertising for customers, just word of mouth and talking with them one-on-one. It’s the same thing for investors. People have sought us out to talk.”
That means that, unlike the Kickstarter and crowd source model that’s become popular for start-ups, Homeslice is turning towards more traditional funding mechanisms — like a convertible note looking for investors at no less than $25,000 each. With that money, they intend to build the value of the company in a fixed time period.
That’s good for customers who stick with the app. By April, Brucker intends to have a new version of the software rolled out with added features and improved functionality that people have been asking for.
“To be honest,” he said, “they’ve really stuck with us for what has been an extremely limited version, but they’re using it as-is already.”
The biggest hurdle, for any app designer is retaining the customer after the first download. Some people never open a new acquisition after the first try. Conversion of all those casual browsers into every-day users along with their housemates is tricky.
“I talk to people from all over the world,” Brucker said, noting that when someone has an issue, he’s on the other end of the email. “Google Translate is amazing. The app is in English but you can download it anywhere in the world. We have customers in 80 countries, that’s 6,000 active [daily or weekly] users, about 2,000 homes.”
For the most part, he said, people are happy that he makes the effort but he’s not sure exactly how well the translator works.
“Success here is in paying attention to users, to make personal touches, no matter what, for as many as you can reach,” he said. Adding that people ask him how that equals profit?
“I get that question the most, but I’ve got a really good answer for that now. The areas for profit we are looking at will be in transactions; landlord billing, utilities; ecommerce as well, transactions for household goods through Amazon is a 6-percent deduction through their referral program and number three, coupons tailored to the college demographic.”
Homeslice is still free and does not host ads. Brucker invites anyone interested to reach him at: or check out the Homeslice Twitter and Facebook pages.

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