Kangaroom is a search engine for flatshares and room to rent in the UK, and are long-time members of TechHub. After launching the new site a few days ago, founder Jinder Sidhu took time out to chat to us about how he built it, and a bit more about Kangaroom.
The new site looks great - talk us through how you built it?
This is actually the second version of Kangaroom. The first release was a prototype built as quickly as possible using Bootstrap and Knockout. This allowed us to validate the proposition, iterate quickly and discover any implementation problems early on.
While the prototype worked well, there were several performance and usability issues. We also noticed a significant drop in users from mobile and tablet devices; an increasingly important market segment that we simply couldn�t afford to ignore.
To address these issues, we re-examined the user experience and implemented a new responsive design. The design dramatically changes as the user switches between a computer, tablet or phone providing a tailored experience on each device. We also implemented hardware-accelerated transitions, gestures and faster touch support to make it feel faster and more like a native app.
What are you plans for marketing/PR now that you've got the site working and looking good?
We never launched with a bang of publicity; instead we soft-launched via social media to garner feedback. As a startup, we don�t have a budget to do extensive testing, so our soft-launch also served as a way to test the product across multiple devices.
The response to our launch was extremely positive, and the first week�s statistics have been very encouraging, with high levels of user engagement and return visitors. Twitter and Facebook served very well in getting the message out there; lots of shares, likes and re-tweets ensured we had a steady stream of visitors.
At the moment, our USP is limited � we are an aggregator � which makes it difficult to get picked up in the wider press. However, over the coming months we�ll be releasing some genuinely innovative features and we suspect it�ll be much easier to get mainstream publicity then.
Ultimately, we won�t be successful just because we�re featured in TechCrunch or the Evening Standard. We need to concentrate on attracting and engaging those looking for rooms to rent or those with spare rooms available. We have several strategies in this regard, ranging from simple Google Adwords to more Guerrilla marketing efforts. We�ll also be concentrating on getting the message out to key flatsharing demographics � students at colleges and universities, and young professional in major metropolitan areas.
Why did you choose to focus on flatshares? Personal pain?
In a word � yes. Anyone that has tried to look for a spare room in London knows it�s a torturous experience. The hours spent trawling disparate sites, the disappointment of missing out on the perfect room posted just 24 hours ago and the endless scams and fake listings. This is not to mention the very real possibility that you may end up living in a house with flatmates with whom you don�t get along.
Kangaroom aims to completely change the way this is approached. We�re starting off small, but we have big plans and we believe that there is huge opportunity here.
Would you be looking to expand your amalgamation model into other markets/industries in the future?
We think our technology is adaptable and can applied to different use cases quite easily. We also believe that our model is applicable across the world; especially in major metropolitan areas where rental prices are high. However, we don�t want to spread ourselves too thinly. Instead, we plan on iterating and developing our product for the UK, and only expanding when we�re sure it�s wise to do so.
We like to laugh. Tell us your best joke please.
I've just chucked out my flatmate for continually stealing my hot chocolate drinks.
He left me with very little Options.