Author: Dom Smith

MIT’s Storyteller In Residence, Dom Smith chats to Adrian Cabrera, co-founder of Alpaca, a business that creates online communities (on Facebook), and generate traffic through people connecting for different reasons, including Apartment Rentals, and the people in this Alpaca-created group can then support each other’s needs.

Tell me about yourself? 

I’m Adrian. I’m a First Year MBA at Sloan. I’m Bolivian, Spanish and Swiss, and I have lived all over the world. I came to MIT because I’m very interested in entrepreneurship, and I think it’s a great place to be to do that.

What is it that you do?

A few friends and I started a company called Alpaca, and what we do is we manage a way of creating online communities on Facebook – different types of Facebook groups, and then generate a lot of traffic, and traction, with people getting to know each other. Right now, we are very focused on apartment rentals. So, we created several groups where people can help those who are looking to find apartments.

Where does the idea come from?

Two of my friends actually launched an apartment rental website in Germany, they had a problem where they were looking for offers, and struggling with demand, and they were spending quite a bit of money in Google Ads and Facebook as well – they realized that wasn’t sustainable, and so had to find a way to get users in a much smarter way, and that’s when we started looking into social networks, and gaining a better understanding of how Facebook groups work to create communities.

What are your main goals?

We are doing quite well, we have two million people who have joined our groups. We currently have a growth rate of 120,000 users per month, meaning that this amount of people are getting to talk to others, and getting to find a place through our network. We’re just planning to grow more! We want to get to 2.5million users by this summer.

What are your biggest challenges?

One of the biggest ones, is that our team is totally remote – two of my cofounders are based in Germany, and I also have a cofounder in Chile. Figuring out those time-zones and also finding time for meetings. Other than that, things are going well, and morale is high on the team.

What’s the best thing about being in this Center?

I think, just talking to all the people here, and figuring out what problems they are solving with their ideas! Whether the idea is the same or not, a lot of the time, these people are facing the same problems that you have. People are very open and friendly, and they will help you out.

What are your key tips for success in business?

To push through! There will be lots of signals around why you should stop, or why you should give up. You just have to keep believing in it, and surround yourself with smart people, and bulldoze forward. Don’t ask for permission just go!