Neighbourly: How good neighbours become good friends

In movies, after new homeowners move in they go door to door with bottles of wine, fine chocolates, and friendly conversations. In real life, it’s a lot more awkward than that.

Think of how long you’ve lived in your current home, and try to count how many of your “neighbours” you know. Even though they’re mere metres from you on a daily basis, chances are you can’t name more than 10 of your neighbours (I can’t even name one!).

Neighbourly, a new location-specific social network created by Casey Eden and Shane Bradley, aims to fill that void by using the internet to bring neighbours together.

“The primary problem we set out to fix was one that was obvious in our own lives,” Casey Eden, MD of Neighbourly, told us. “We simply did not know any of our neighbours, and for two guys that wouldn’t count themselves as confident and outgoing types, the thought of walking next door terrified us.”

“We know that over the last 15 years the internet has given people tremendous exposure and reach into the world but it has also taken away a bit from our reliance and connection to on the original social network, the neighbourhood.

“We think this is the generation that needs to do something small to remember what being a good neighbour is all about.

“And most importantly we wanted this in our own backyard.”

The concept was first discussed in mid-2013, and after researching similar models that were gaining traction in other countries, Neighbourly was launched in 5 suburbs in early 2014.

The entire operation has been bootstrapped so far, Casey says, as he and Shane have been able to come up with the funds required to create and deploy the product themselves.

This isn’t the first time the two entrepreneurs have built internet-based businesses. Shane was the founder of a number of successful New Zealand websites including GrabOne.co.nz and Finda.co.nz, and Casey was the sales director at GrabOne.

“We’ve both worked together for seven years now, “Casey says, “and a good chunk of the rest of the Neighbourly team is also from legacy businesses which gives us a big edge in terms of understanding how to work together.”

On a day-to-day basis, Shane is the CEO of Shop HQ (Pet.co.nz and Baby.co.nz), a joint venture with The Warehouse, and Casey is the managing director of Neighbourly.

Experienced as they are, the Neighbourly team has encountered obstacles and challenges, mostly in getting people to make the effort to engage with and meet their neighbours.

“For a number of years we have been told by numerous sources that we need to be extremely careful with who we engage with online,” Casey said. “Now we’re trying to set up new networks of people that may not have previously known each other because we believe strongly in the benefits of being engaged with the people who live around you in your community.”

Neighbourly has sought to reduce concerns and risks by implementing security features that allow neighbourhood-based networks to be secure. Every member is address verified by a custom sign-up code that is mailed to them in a letter. If users have any concerns at all, the Auckland-based Neighbourly team talks to them directly to resolve the issue.

“Ultimately we need to remind people about what good can come out of the neighbourhood and the people around you,” Casey says.

The site will be used to invite people to have neighbourhood barbecues and lunches, to warn locals of potential issues and problems in the area, and to promote real life interaction between neighbours.

smartphone app

With so many prosperous businesses under his supervision, Casey says that to-do lists allow him to easily arrange what he needs to do, and they ultimately keep him focused and productive.

“Also, make sure you are available to staff and customers during the standard work day, “Casey advises. “It’s easy to always want to be working on strategy and bigger picture thinking, but you need to do that when you are not relied upon by others.”

Another aspect of business that Casey suggests entrepreneurs focus on is committing as hard and as fast as they can to ideas that they believe in.

“If you succeed then that’s great,” he says, “and you’ll hopefully lock out competitors by moving fast. If you fail you can fail fast and get on with the next chapter of your life.

“Also don’t be afraid to own a smaller part of something huge compared to all of something that is going nowhere fast.”

Neighbourly is clearly gaining traction, and the service already has a presence in many neighbourhoods in New Zealand.

For now, the team plans to devote their time to building Neighbourly as an amazing community tool that will help New Zealanders to build safer, stronger, and more friendly places to call home.

 

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