Neighbor is on a friendly mission: to match people’s empty space with other people’s extra stuff. In this interview, we talk with Joseph Woodbury, CEO and founder at Neighbor, about the origin of the brand name, how did they get the domain Neighbor.com and what was the problem they were having before with their previous domain name StoreWithNeighbor.com.
Joseph, what is your background, and what led you to start Neighbor in 2017?
My co-founders and I started Neighbor when we were still students, though we each had experience in management consulting, venture capital, and private equity. My co-founder, Preston, came up with the idea for Neighbor after he needed a storage unit. He was so disappointed with his experience with traditional self-storage that he stored his items in a friend’s garage instead. The rest is history.
Why did you originally decide to brand your company under the name “ Neighbor ”, what is the backstory?
Essentially, the name comes from the fact that users on Neighbor.com store their items with their neighbors. We’ve always wanted to place the focus on the people that make up our community rather than the services. People naturally trust their neighbors; they strive to be good neighbors to each other. We want to encourage our users to create that kind of community.
Your brand made a huge improvement in 2018 when you upgraded your domain name from StoreWithNeighbor.com to the exact brand match Neighbor.com, what was the problem you were having before acquiring your perfect domain name?
Our company has always been called “Neighbor,” so people would naturally type in Neighbor.com assuming we owned the domain. All of that direct traffic was lost. Making the switch eliminated that problem.
How is your company doing since you acquired your exact brand match domain name, what is better now?
A fast-moving startup has so many moving pieces that it’s difficult to quantify the exact benefits of moving to an exact brand match. As I mentioned, we now capture 100% of direct traffic. The domain has also allowed us to more confidently put resources behind SEO. And there is certainly a higher degree of user trust. Each of these and more factors compound to increase traffic and decrease acquisition costs.
How has the domain acquisition affected your team? Are they happy about it? Is it making their work easier? What is the feedback you get?
The team loves the domain. It makes the company feel more real and established. It adds soul to our culture. And it has created a sense that there is nothing holding us back from offering this service around the globe. But I don’t think owning the domain necessarily makes anyone’s work any easier, aside from an easier email handle perhaps.
What was the best and worst part about the process of acquiring the domain Neighbor.com?
The best part has been the brand ownership and identity the domain has given us and the benefits to the growth of the business mentioned above. As with most domain transactions, the most difficult part was probably coming to an agreement on domain value. It required discipline, including walking away from a deal and waiting until the next year in order to indicate that we wouldn’t pay a premium for the domain. But the prior owner was reasonable, and we enjoyed working with him.
How important is the presence of your brand online? What plays the most important role in people finding you on the web?
We’ve built a brand of trust and a reputation for an excellent product and service. All of this is encompassed in our core value to “be neighborly.” This brand helps new visitors instantly fall in love with and feel comfortable using our product
If your brand is a person, how would you describe its personality?
Neighbor.com has been named one of Fast Company’s 2019 World-Changing Ideas in the Apps category, do you think you could have achieved the same level of success without owning Neighbor.com?
I don’t think we would have been given such prestigious tech awards without Neighbor.com. It adds validity to our mission to solve the problem of homeownership in America by disrupting the storage industry and distributing the profits to hosts and renters.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering acquiring a premium domain name, what would it be?
The first step is to evaluate whether your business needs a premium domain name. Many B2B businesses will use a sales model to be found instead of organic search and can use other tactics to build trust. Other businesses only have mobile apps and don’t need a premium domain name.
But if you operate a consumer-facing business or in an industry that necessitates strong brand building, then make the investment early on so that you don’t delay building your unique brand.
Do you remember the day you got your first client? What was the feeling?
Neighbor is a storage marketplace, so we were lucky to have two first clients: our first host AND our first renter. The best feeling is paying out passive income to our hosts each month. We have many hosts that make over $10,000 a year renting out their property for storage.
What should your global audience expect from Neighbor now, what’s next?
In some ways, more of the same. We are going to continue to save each of our renters thousands of dollars a year on storage and ensure the safety of their items with our $25,000 guarantee. We will continue to pay many of our hosts thousands of dollars a year and protect their space with our $2 Million guarantee. We are just working to offer this service to more and more people each year. Expect to see us expand to new states and new countries.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help, or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade. We are always happy to hear from you.
Find out more about Neighbor.com