Jamie Wong – Vayable 2 of 2

“Jump off the cliff and build your plane on the way down.” Vayabale is a social marketplace where people can discover unique travel experiences.

Matthew: Are there any unique metrics or social proof about Vayable that you’d like to share with our audience?

Jamie: Right now we have hit a little bit of a roadblock with our payments, so it’s been hard to get those metrics. But we do have 200 people already interested in leading trips and becoming Guides on the site, and we currently have about 35 offerings on the site.

Matthew: And when did you launch?

Jamie: We launched mid-March, so two weeks ago.

Matthew: Excellent. We know founders face unique challenges when they start companies. What was the hardest part about starting Vayable and how did you overcome that obstacle?

Jamie: There have been many challenges. I would say the hardest part was starting. Taking that initial leap was the most difficult thing for me. I did not drop out of college to become an entrepreneur. I had been working real jobs for ten years, but I had this vision that kept pulling me away from every job I was doing. It got to the point where I felt like I no longer had a choice, and I just had to jump off the cliff and build an airplane on the way down, which we’re in the process of doing. This is not my quote.

Matthew: But it’s a good quote. Since you’ve been in operation, what have you learned about your users or your business that you didn’t know before launching?

Jamie: Our ideas have been met with so much enthusiasm and people are ecstatic about the vision, the concept, and really want to use this. That doesn’t necessarily translate to people using it just because they’re enthusiastic about the idea. Good ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s really about the execution.

You hear about this from the entrepreneur and funding level, but you don’t really think about it as often on the user level. Users want to have something that’s familiar and really easy to use at the end of the day. They might love the idea of the innovation conceptually, but at the end of the day you have to provide them with something that is absolutely familiar that they can get.

Matthew: What talents or skills come easy for you, and what has been difficult and how have you managed that?

Jamie: Getting people excited about the idea has actually been easy, and a very natural process. Finding resources both in the entrepreneur community, and also just in the traveler community and the guide community, and getting help and information, that part has actually come pretty easily for us.

The part that’s more challenging, I think, is that there are a million things to do and there are two of us. Figuring out exactly how to prioritize those things in a way that’s going to be most effective for the business and to get everything off the ground fastest, and that’s something that neither of us had been prepared for, so it’s something we’re learning along the way. I think we’re doing a good job, but it’s very challenging.

Matthew: Excellent. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since launching?

Jamie: Go to your users. Talk to your users nonstop, every day, all the time. As much as esteemed serial entrepreneurs are going to help us and give us great advice, and as much as spending time on fundraising so we have the capital to grow the way we want to is extremely important, users are the people who you’re going to learn from the most, and who are going to determine the success of the company.

Matthew: Has there been a mentor or an individual who has played a significant impact in your professional development and in helping to launch Vayable?

Jamie: Absolutely. There have been several, but Joe Gebbia, who is one of the co-founders of Airbnb, has been an absolute asset and the most inspirational and pivotal in helping is launch. He was the one that gave me the big kick in the butt to jump off that cliff initially, and since then, he has been an incredible professional resource and advisor, and a source of inspiration and motivation for us.

Matthew: What piece of advice would like to share with our audience about starting or launching a startup? What do you think are the most important elements?

Jamie: For me, I can only speak to the type of product that comes from an organic experience, because that’s what this is. For people who sense of need for themselves and they’ve tested it around them, and it seems like something people want, and you’re passionate about it, just do it. Just make it. If it fails, it fails. I come from a very academic background. There’s only so much you can think about. You can study and you can research, but you’ve really just got to get out there and do it. Get it up.

Matthew: Excellent. Before we close, I would like for you to give our audience your vision for Vayable and how you hope it will change the world.

Jamie: I see Vayable as becoming the number one destination for people looking for unique things to do and travel. I see us partnering with accommodation sites and flight searches so that the independent ‘off the beaten path’ traveler can book a very special, unique trip as easily as someone can currently book a cruise or a packaged tour. I believe that’s going to have a huge, really important impact on the world economically, by dollars going back to local communities rather than just being concentrated in large corporations. I think it’s going to help grow cultural understanding, which will lead to more peace and enrich people’s lives.

Matthew: Excellent. Well, Jamie, it’s been a pleasure having you as a guest on our show. We’re rooting for your success at Vayable.

Jamie: Thank you.

Matthew: We hope you’ll come back. For those in our audience who would like to learn more, and register to become a member of the community and find that new local travel experience, you can visit them, at HYPERLINK “http://www.Vayable.com” www.Vayable.com.

This is Matthew Wise with FounderLY. Thanks so much, Jamie.

Jamie: Thank you so much, Matt.

  • http://twitter.com/jordan_price Jordan

    I’m torn about exactly how useful it is to hear an interview with a first-time founder with a business that’s only 2 weeks old. It’s not exactly a lot of experience to pull from. At any rate, I feel like there’s a few questions that that were skipped such as:

    How are you funding your project? How did you get your first users? How are you attracting more users?
    Do you see any signs that you may need to pivot your idea now that you have users?

    Possibly these would be good questions to ask your next guest who has such a new startup.

    Thanks, & Jamie best of luck with your company. 

    • http://twitter.com/FounderLY FounderLY

      @Jordan, thanks for the feedback.  We decided to interview Jamie because we admired her passion and the level of craftsmanship she put into her product.  Normally we film founders with much more traction, but we want to provide a broad cross section of founder stories.

      At FounderLY we don’t cover issues about users and traction and pivoting. We focus on the human story of how founders have developed as individuals over time to become entrepreneurs. And how they are currently focusing their vision and efforts. Hope this helps clarifies some things.


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