April 24, 2019

What Valuable Data Can I Aggregate to Build an Expat Community?

Kramer @barryHalls

I am interested in creating a community for expats, so I'm soliciting IH's advice on how to build a valuable community.

@csallen recently laid out a common theme amongst rapidly successful startups:

  1. Aggregate useful data to build an extremely valuable directory or resource.

  2. Grow an audience/network/community around that resource by providing free access and generating content.

  3. Capture this audience by getting them to join a mailing list, join a community, subscribe to a social media channel, subscribe to a podcast, etc. Or have badass SEO for your content. You just need some way to reach your audience repeatedly.

  4. Monetize via sales or partnerships with large companies.

Personally, I'm extremely interested in expatriating. I think there are a lot of opportunities in the Caribbean & South America – i.e. cheaper, attractive real estate, less regulated, less developed, amazing environments, etc..

I'm considering building a social network like IH, with a feed, people, cities, properties, and unique benefits for premium subscribers. However, I'm concerned that a bunch of features is indicative of not solving a real problem.

Real estate appears to be one of the most interesting data sets to aggregate, but traditional brokers like Sothebys already have a ton of RE listings.

City data would also be relevant, but NomadList already has a TON of data mapped out as well.

Personally, I just want to connect with people who live abroad, because they seem to value free markets & individual liberty more.

How can I build a valuable resource, without wasting time by building just another social network?

  1. 2

    Don't start with the community. Start with the data, content, or whatever you can put together or aggregate to provide value to these people. Ideally something simple. What do expats like? What do they need? What are they enthusiastic about? What they spend lots of time researching?

    If you don't know, go find out! Read what they're talking about and sharing on message boards. Ask them questions, talk to them in-person, travel yourself.

    Once you do know, put together something to help them out. In Nomad List's case, that was the city data. For me, that twas the interviews with indie hackers. For Key Values, that's the cultural information of what it's like to work at the company you're considering applying to as a developer. Etc.

    Don't build features. Building a features is like building a McDonald's that doesn't sell any food, and instead spending all your time on the seating, the lighting, the paint, etc.

  2. 2

    Have you ever moved to another country? I'm asking because it might be very worthwhile to try it out before committing to this idea, or seek out people who have experience in this area.

    Some of the first things people are going to be interested in is how to find house/apartment in the new country; how to find employment, how to arrange daycare/school if there are kids, how to attend local universities/training, how do you get around (car, subway, bus, taxi etc.), how to pay taxes, get health insurance, etc. After these very basics, you need to know things like where do people go to buy food, what are good restaurants, entertainment options, etc. But those are secondary after the basics. Also, how to find other people from your country of origin.

    All this depends greatly on what the different circumstances are; e.g. are you moving as a family, single person, family with kids; are you being sponsored by a company, what kind of visa each person has etc.

    Maybe choose a specific country of interest first and then try to find people who are in your target audience and interview them about their experiences.

    • What their experience has been like
    • What do they regularly do in the new country
    • What have they had to re-learn while there
    • What they wish they would have known when they arrived
    • What is different in the new country vs. country of origin

    A lot of this will be based on personal point of view, but you would then have to use that information to find a more general approach that could be applied to expats as a whole. Make sure you work off of real experiences, not from a romanticized view of what it might be like to live abroad. I'm saying this because I have personal experience; I've lived in 3 countries on different continents. I hope this helps.