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Krystel Hoche takes us through her journey of building Yo Neighbor!

Yo Neighbor! lets you borrow things, but mainly helps creating closer communities facilitating shared economy!

Starting up is a no walk in the park. You need to be focused, determined and supremely excited about  owning a business and making it sustainable in the long run! 
The road to starting up wasn’t smooth sailing for Krystel as well but the fascination of building something that people can use gave the confidence and spurred her on to develop a platform that could bring communities closer leveraging shared economy. 

Tell us more about Yo Neighbor! How did you come up with the idea?

Yo Neighbor Logo

In Lebanon, we form strong bonds with our neighbors, they sort of become part of the family. This was not the case when I moved to the UAE. I barely knew 2 or 3 of my neighbors, and I wasn’t really comfortable borrowing from them for many reasons, including diverse cultural backgrounds. So, when my husband and I couldn’t install a mirror we had purchased due to lack of proper tools at the time, it got me thinking that a lot of people can be in my situation, and resolve to buying items they will rarely use. I saw a big potential there…

Sharing economy
Borrowing is the new buying!

So how does it work?

It’s quite simple: Rent it from people who have it, and lease it to people who don’t.

We wanted to answer a very common problem: “I need an item for a short period of time, but I don’t want to buy it!”

And we wanted to answer it in the easiest way possible, therefore we created Yo Neighbor!, a mobile application that connects people who have things with people who need them. Look around you and you will surely find at least three items you rarely use and that could be of benefit to someone else. The idea also evolved into using not only people’s assets, but also using their talents.

Why go to a company, when your neighbor can do it?

Therefore, we added the “services” part, where people can hire freelance professionals from their community: photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists, tutors, personal trainers and what not.

Skilled people can enlist their talent and get booked through the app directly. That simple!

Download Yo Neighbor App
Lease, lend and swap in a click!

It’s a very user friendly platform that allows you to save money and space, while also enabling you to make some extra cash from items you are rarely using or services you can provide. You scroll through the list, search by proximity, rating, price, etc.. and rent what you need just in a click of a button.

And the best part is: No middle man needed!

What makes you different from your competitors?

Exactly the “no middle man needed!” At Yo Neighbor! people don’t have to pay a share of their earnings to us as a fee. What you make is yours and YOURS ALONE. The app is absolutely free to use and there is no hidden fees!

What do you consider is Yo Neighbor! App’s greatest achievement within the past 6 months?

We’ve had great media coverage for free, people were talking about us and the media was interested to know more. But what we are really proud of is the kind of attention Yo Neighbor! has been driving over the private Facebook groups- users recommending our app to other members of the community, and that is what I consider our best achievement is as it shows that our app is actually proving to be useful to the community.

What is the main focus for your App over the next 6 months?

Our main focus is to enlarge our postings and spread across the UAE. The real challenge is that people are not very familiar with the concept of sharing economy

However, Yo Neighbor!’s growth has been doing quite some work in that area. It has been educating the word about the sharing economy and its benefits for the community. We are working very hard on adding more items and services to our list of offerings.

Krystel Hoche
Krystel Hoche, a Lebanese woman, makes waves a with a new app that helps residents borrow items from neighbor at Emirates Towers on 2 OCT 2017 Photo: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Looking back at the whole experience, what would you say was the most surprising thing?

The most surprising thing is how fast we used to run out of coffee 😀
It took us sleepless nights and over-worked zombie hours to get started… Little did we know it would be this tough until we were in it. We had only imagined that it will be a lot of hard-work but growing “your baby” takes a toll on you physically and mentally, and one should be prepared for this. One should know that in a split second, a competitor might pop up and they would want to grow their baby as well!

So, you need to make sure you work ten times harder and ten times faster.

In the end, what advice do you have for startups from emerging markets?

Be committed and aggressive (and stock up on strong coffee). Whether working full-time on your idea, or after hours till the break of dawn, be committed to it. It will not be easy, and it will take a lot of time and effort to grow your startup but it is exciting to come up with a brilliant idea! However, you should be fully prepared to do the hard-work, clean the mess, get over the many rejections you will hear and get through the rough times when you might, just might, consider quitting.   

How did Yo Neighbor! get its first traffic?

Seasonality plays a big role in boosting rentals. It was last year during the holidays, when out of the blue, many users started renting through the app. And I guess the easy process made them come back! ☺

In the sharing economy, it’s not what you own that matters but what you use.

In the global sharing economy, which is predicted to grow to US$335 billion by 2025 according to the consultancy PwC, it is car-ride companies such as Uber and Careem and holiday-stay platforms and Airbnb that are leading the pack.

Inspired in getting involved?
Download Yo Neighbor! available on The App Store and Google Play!

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