Dan Tarasenko lives just outside of Merimbula, NSW on the beautiful Sapphire Coast where he runs Next Place – a business dedicated to helping people with their property search by giving them access to better tools than those currently available.
nextplace.com.au @NextPlaceAU facebook
The best advice I can give anybody with an idea is to put themselves in the best possible position to be able to execute.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
I have a background in eCommerce and site search, which taught me that usability matters more than anything else in the online industry. If users can’t find what they’re looking for, they can’t buy it. Real estate is often the most important decision and purchase the average person will make. Yet, with the two dominant real estate search engines [Domain.com.au and RealEstate.com.au] there are extremely limited usability options. Neither of these websites offer a truly unique search as an individual user. They don’t help people solve problems like finding pet-friendly rentals or looking for homes within the coverage area of the preferred school for their children. I knew there was a better way of doing things, so I built it.
Please explain your business model
We make money in the traditional ways through display advertising, mortgage and listing lead referrals. We are also developing some exciting new tools delivering unique data and insights to both consumers and agents to help make informed decisions in the markets they are in.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Right now with regards to Next Place we are finalising the details of a successful fundraising round and we are looking forward to executing some of our plans to further disrupt the Real Estate space. At a personal level I am very excited at the local Start-up/Entrepreneur scene being fostered in the Sapphire Coast region. I am attending the official launch of the region’s first co-working space, giving a short talk alongside local council and NSW Government representatives. The local start-up scene is being driven largely by the superhuman efforts of one person, Liam O’Duibhir, who heads up the initiative IntoITsapphirecoast.com and runs Australia’s only Sea-change Start-up Boot Camp in Merimbula every year in March.
How do you make ideas happen?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any secret sauce for your readers. The best advice I can give anybody with an idea is to put themselves in the best possible position to be able to execute. For me that involved selling assets, saving money, doing work on the side and most importantly moving away from distractions (friends, family, traffic) and to a more financially affordable location. Most people would not do this and that’s a question of resolve and skin in the game. When presenting to potential investors about what I had done to make this happen, it was always well received.
What does your typical day look like?
I like to start the day with a coffee and a quick check of the inbox and tech reports. If there is nothing urgent a walk around the property we rent with our six month old blue heeler pup puts me in a good space. From there a typical day can include any combination of corresponding with agents and vendors, working with our team on features, and generally growing the business.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Our biggest one is marketing, as our main focus until now has been development. In addition, I happen to be in a highly competitive industry in Australia online with many interests preventing airtime, though we will overcome this.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
I think one of the future opportunities online is in content curation. Helping people navigate the masses of content created every day. Easily manipulated all-off-the-web search engines do not solve this problem.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
As I mentioned earlier, Liam O’Duibhir who heads up the initiative IntoITsapphirecoast.com is someone I am really impressed with locally. He’s doing a lot to promote connectivity, at an online and human level.
What about internationally?
Internationally (and this again feeds into my point about curating content) I am a big fan of Wolfram|Alpha, a computational knowledge engine or answer engine that takes online searching to the next level. This online service answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from externally sourced “curated data”, rather than providing a list of documents or web pages that might contain the answer as a search engine might.
In line with my love of usability as the prime focus, I definitely rate Google-competitor DuckDuckGo. This Internet search engine differentiates itself by emphasising that it protects searchers’ privacy and avoiding the “filter bubble” of personalised search results. It’s a much ‘purer’ search engine, if that makes sense?
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
One key way is through the adoption of telecommute initiatives. Location-independent employment empowers people in numerous ways. Freeing someone up from having to spend two hours a day in traffic means they can spend more time with their children, further their study or turn their business idea into a reality. This method allows me to work with wonderfully talented people across Australia and the world. It’s a no brainer.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
These are all great resources for Australian start-ups.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
We would love to talk to people who are interested in real estate journalism, regarding creating content for an online real estate news portal we are working on. This would start as an internship position, with the potential to develop into paid employment.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about start-ups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
Next Place operates in an extremely competitive environment (dominated by Australia’s two largest media companies), which presents a few marketing challenges for us. I’d be interested to hear from other start-ups in similar situations regarding how they’ve broken through in terms of share of voice and media coverage.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
It would have to be Churrasco, a Brazilian style BBQ restaurant in New South Wales.
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
Sure, Next Place would be happy to kick in a banner advertisement for the Next Place website, to the value of $2500.