Two Brothers Challenge How we Stay Around the World

CONTRIBUTED BY NICO SCHNEIDER OF STAYDU

When most people are happy to travel within the bounds of what’s available, these two twenty-something brothers from Germany are on a mission to offer something new, especially for the budget traveller. Find out what it is and what’s inspired them to do it…

Me (Nico) left and Alessandro (right) with our dad

Me (Nico) left, and Alessandro (right) enjoying a beer with our dad

Hi, I’m Nico, a 25-year old university student who lives in Germany. My brother is Alessandro. He’s 21 and currently travelling around the world. Together, we have co-founded staydu.com.

This website is the outcome from following our dream to start a website to help the travel community enjoy long-term stays in new places around the world, for little or no money.

Our Idea

The idea of Staydu was first born in June 2011. Alessandro and I were sitting at a lake talking. I remember it so well! We were actually sitting at a lake when that first thought to start a budget travel community came to life.

We’ve both been working with the Internet for a long time and we were both eager to start a project that would really put us to the test and help us give back to the travel community that has given us so much. Specifically, we were passionate to offer something new and exciting for the traveller on a budget – and the result is Staydu!

Why Start Staydu?

We had two reasons to start Staydu. The first reason is that we both love to travel. But travelling is often very expensive. Besides transportation, you spend the most on accommodation. That was our starting point.

We wanted to give people a way to reduce this side of their expenses to enable more people to enjoy travel, or to enable people to travel longer on the same budget.

Our logo

Our logo

There is already a way for backpackers to have short stays for free and, say, pick afordable restaurants in Köln, so we were thinking about a way to let all types of travellers, not just backpackers, spend little or nothing – and be able to stay long-term; not just short-term.

That’s how we came up with our idea that we think makes our site unique from anything already out there. We have created a community that enables travellers to meet and stay with locals in three different ways:

  1. in exchange for work
  2. for money
  3. entirely for free

(Read our other article to see if Staydu might help you with your travel dreams.)

Our Team

Alessandro does the programming & design. He’s the one who set up the website. The first part of my role was to help Alessandro design the site. We talked continuously about all the little details, right down to which button goes exactly where.

Once the whole website was set up, my part became marketing – trying to get visitors to our website and to spread the word about Staydu. Everyone running his own website knows exactly what I’m talking about!

Other than the two of us, we have now recruited quite a few Country Managers. These are people who share our vision and are passionate to spread the word within their country, helping to grow our network of hosts and travellers.

Discussing ideas

Discussing ideas with some members of our community

Struggles

The hardest part was in the beginning. We had to change and adapt our concept and many details a lot of times.

Also, the hardest part is to get a website running. Nobody is really interested in a website which is new and has no visitors. The hardest part is definitely to get the website ‘out there!’

Successes

I think that, from a marketing perspective, our biggest success is what Staydu is today. We’re a community of over 11,000 members and over 2,500 hosts offering places to stay in over 141 countries.  

We now have over 15.000 visitors to our site each month and we’re growing all the time. This shows us that we’re genuinely filling a need for the budget traveller and we feel very proud to be doing that.

We’ve already been in many journals and magazines (especially here in Germany). And, of course, I have to mention Seth Kugel, the ‘Frugal traveler’ who mentioned staydu in the NY Times.

What Seth wrote about us in the NY Times

What Seth wrote about us in the NY Times

My personal success is to read all of the feedback that we get from people participating in our Staydu community. That’s what it’s all about!

I’ve spent years abroad in the United States and Brazil. It has been the best time of my life and I’m very happy that my brother and I can help others (especially people with a small budget) to have similar experiences.

Funding

This is another success point.

There is no funding or big investors behind Staydu. In fact, we didn’t spend any money, other than our server costs, to start Staydu. Luckily my brother is excellent with programming so we were able to manage everything ourselves. We are very pleased about this.

We don’t want to justify decisions to, report to, or argue with any investors. Therefore, we decided to build up Staydu without any investment at all. We did all the work ourselves and today we enjoy the freedom to take all of the decisions ourselves. Furthermore, we are able to meet all of our expenses without any problem.

Advice for Others

I think that you first need to have a good idea. If you’re not sure if it’s a good idea, find some ways to test it out. Starting with family and friends is always a great way to begin.

With that said, I also think that the success of your website depends more on you than on the site itself. You really need to invest a lot of work to keep your website going. If you’re not willing to spend hours and hours – often times frustrating hours – then it is hard to succeed. You really need to be passionate about what you’re doing!

Another point that I believe is very important is the willingness to cooperate. Many people focus on how much money they make. Some don’t even reply to their e-mails!

I believe that the willingness to give is the way to receive. Think about it – all of your traffic comes from links and recommendations (even organic from google)! You must first focus on giving before you can worry about receiving.

Nico has also Shared

FURTHER DETAILS

  • Contributed by:  Nico Schneider (via email interview)
  • Written, formatted and edited by:  Krista Beauvais
  • Photos:  all photos are courtesy of Nico Schneider
  • Website they started:  staydu.com
  • Idea was formulated in June 2011
  • Membership as of July 2013:  11,000 members

CONTACT NICO

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