Would you introduce yourself to OnSuccess readers and share your thoughts on Korea?
Sure, James. Hello everyone, my name is Erick Arndt. I am the founder of TimeshareJuice, a website to exchange timeshares for free. TimeshareJuice is a platform for the global trading of over 6 million timeshares around the world. I am happily married with 4 children living in southern California (a truly great place to live).
I recently had dinner with my friends and neighbors who are from both from Korea (both husband and wife). We were eating Korean food (sushi, soups, and kim-che). It was delicious! They were introducing my family to a Korean market serving wonderful Korean food. I had the chance to ask them many questions about Korea. It was really quite fascinating. I learned how much different life is in Korea vs southern California. One thing that made me laugh was how good the Korean Soap Operas are. They told me that other Asian countries love Korean Soap Operas more than the shows made in their own country. They are a great family and we care for them very much.
Please tell readers a bit about history of TimeshareJuice? What’s the concept of your company that you are trying to show to Visitors? And what inspired you to start your own business?
Today there are over 6 million timeshares at over 5,000 resorts in 100 countries around the world. Timeshare exchange is when one timeshare owner trades their timeshare week with another timeshare owner so they can each vacation at different resorts this year. It allows a timeshare owner to leverage their ownership week to travel the world and stay in the best resorts. It is a wonderful way to vacation.
Unfortunately it has become very expensive to do timeshare exchange because there is no real competition. Whenever a market has no competition inevitably costs go up and service goes down. I have been a timeshare owner for 15 years and have seen timeshare costs go up and up. If the industry does not address these rising fees the market will crash.
Timeshare exchange companies charge an annual membership fee of $100 membership each year and then $150 to process the trade. There can be more fees after that. Many timeshare owners, including me, find the service to be expensive and not very good. I don’t want to trade my timeshare every year but I still have to pay annual membership fees whether I trade or not. Then you add in the other costs of ownership and timeshare ownership has become an expensive way to vacation.
The goal of TimeshareJuice is to connect and empower all of the owners from around the world so they can trade for free. I believe that without any fees people will trade more and vacation more and be much happier. We all need more vacations!
What inspired me was quite simply the dissatisfaction I had with the current timeshare exchange companies. I think their fees are too high and the service is not very good. The more I talked to other timeshare owners I learned that I was not alone; far from it. No one was happy. I did some research and noticed that less people were buying timeshares and more people were selling their timeshares. Many were dissatisfied. So I grabbed a pen and began to think about a solution.
and Erick, I understand that your business system is very unique, What's the revenue model of your company?
Thank you. Yes, TimeshareJuice is very unique. A single platform across the world for everyone to exchange timeshares has never been done before. It’s very exciting (and a little scary) to be the first. I am thankful to have a great team on board to help.
We do not charge any fees to timeshare owners. Without timeshare exchange fees, timeshare owners find their vacation costs drop by over $250 each year. Our goal is to eliminate timeshare fees for owners so they will travel more.
Our revenue model will be to earn commissions helping our members book their travel (e.g. airfare, car, etc). We have a very unique approach to this and are working with an excellent partner in this space to provide a high-quality solution to our membership.
I heard that you start up many companies before TimeshareJuice, Did all businesses succeed? What do you learn from past businesses?
I started early ! My first business was when I was 10. I had a paper route in my neighborhood in Valley Stream, NY. I had 50 customers that I delivered the newspaper to each day. It was a lot of responsibility for someone that age. I had to make sure everyone received a paper each day no matter what. It didn’t matter the weather, if I had a cold, or a shortage of papers, everyone got a newspaper. Then I had to collect the money from each customer each week. I learned a LOT about business from that. It was a fantastic learning experience and many of those principles I learned back then I still use today.
Another business that I learned a lot from was my Ice Cream Truck when I was 17. Rather than get a job for the summer like every other kid in highschool, I drove around the neighborhood enticing people to enjoy delicious ice cream. If I didn’t sell ice cream, I didn’t make money. If the ice cream spoiled or melted I lost money. If I delivered a quality product with great customer service, I would sell lots of ice cream and get repeat customers which is one of the secrets to successful business. That is just the beginning; I had many businesses after that. I could talk all day. There is always a way to provide a better product and/or service to the customer.
No not all of my businesses were successful with earning me lots of money but I learned a lot from each business whether it was successful or not. There is always much to be learned. I look at it like I earned my MBA on the job not in school. Those learning lessons are extremely valuable. And what I learn from one business I can take to the next.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, I suggest you begin right now wherever you are. Just get started.
I learned that being an entrepreneur is a very exciting way to live the Journey of Life. There is always unexpected events that occur; some good, some not. But those experiences make your life very rich even if you are not . The success of our 2 countries (US and Korea) has a lot to do with entrepreneurship. New businesses are always the catalyst for every strong economy. If not for them, our countries would not have the success they have today.
and It would be great if Resort owners in korea also use your system? Of course, japan, china etc, What’s your ideas to let Asian people to know your company and use that?
We are very excited to continue our growth into Asian markets. I don’t know how, but we do have members from Korea, India, and Japan already. Entrepreneurs must understand the power of the global economy. Word spreads very quickly if you deliver a quality product and service for the customer; it can even spread across oceans. This is a very exciting time where companies compete across the world not just locally in town anymore. The customer can use a service provider thousands of miles away. That will raise the level of service in many areas of the economy.
We are reaching out to resorts right now all over the world to let them know about TimeshareJuice and the positive impact it can have on their business and how it will generate revenue for them. Perhaps some of your readers have some great ideas on how TimeshareJuice can reach more timeshare owners and resorts in Korea, Japan, and China. I would love to hear the ideas from your readership on how I can attract resorts to TimeshareJuice. Come on OnSuccess readers, here’s your chance show me your great ideas!
and Would you please introduce about your teams? How’s your team consisted of? And what’s the role for each person in Timeshare Juice?
We have a fantastic development team led by Antonio. Mike leads the customer service team and our social media presence. He is getting to know our membership and helping them with questions and customer service and support. I am in charge of vision, business development, washing the dishes, and whatever else needs to be done.
you are expert programmer(right? : )), so you build up your website by yourself, and you fund from your pocket when you design your website, in what part you focus on and what kind of tips you want to give to Korean readers about building website?
Expert programmer?…haha! Wrong guy. But I did find and hire an expert. Rather than program I spent my time working on what I am good at. Being a timeshare owner for 15 years I spent my time figuring out what I wanted the site to do for me and how I would interact with it as a timeshare owner. I spent a lot of time talking with other timeshare owners to understand what they wanted and what the typical skill level for using the Internet. Timeshare owners are not necessarily technology and web savvy. So I spent a lot of time making the site very easy to use so that everyone can use it. Right now we have a lot of people signing up for membership and using the site but very few people with questions on how to use the site. That’s a great thing. That means the site in intuitive.
When I first let people use it during the Alpha test, we had many questions. The system was too complicated. Since then, we focused a lot of energy on simplifying the site; making it really easy to use. Remember, TimeshareJuice is unique and this is a new way to exchange timeshares so people are not use to it. Being new provides us a great opportunity to set a new standard for timeshare exchange but also a big challenge. We have to hold their hand and teach them the new way. Timeshare exchange has been done the same way for 30 years.
The next time your readers use a device or a website that is really simple and easy, know that there was a lot of work that went into making it that way. Trust me; you have to be very focused during the design phase.
Steve Jobs taught me “Design is function not form.” What he means is the design has everything to do with usability rather than what the device looks like or how many different features it has. For us at TimeshareJuice, design is about “simple and easy to use”. Think about the first time you used the iPod. Remember how easy it was. It was magnificent. That’s what drives the TimeshareJuice Team to be better each day. Timeshare exchange companies keep owners separated. Timeshare exchange companies do not allow us to interact or communicate with other owners. That’s the job of the middleman in every market; keep the 2 parties separated. It’s the same role the stock broker played for many years up until the early 90’s. Keep the customer away from the stock market. If he allows you to connect then there is no need for him. TimeshareJuice is knocking down those walls to open up the lines of communication and trade of timeshares. We think being open is better for the timeshare owner and the industry overall.
So my tip on designing a website or any business is to understand your customer. Get to know them, who they are, what their problems are, what they know, their skillset, age, etc. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to solve their problems. And if you can solve problems, you’ll have a successful business and make lots of money. And the bigger the problems that you solve the more successful you’ll be.
now many people consider starting their own business while they are at certain Job or school, but very few have been successful in actually doing it. what’s your advice for the guys who want to start up his business?
Yes, I agree, this way of thinking is very common. I completely understand where you are coming from but let’s see if I can help. I’ll admit that taking that first step can be scary. But if you let fear hold you back from trying, you’ll have a life full of regret. And it is much easier to deal with failure than regret. With regret you will always have questions about “what if?” It will haunt you. Failure you can get over but regret is heavy to carry forever.
Do not use your spouse or kids as a reason NOT to do a business. Rather, use them as a reason TO do a business. Think about the better quality of life you can provide them. That includes a nicer house, vacations, and schools to learn. But also the tremendous learning lessons are a great education. If you try to always live a “safe” life and avoid risk, you will miss out on many of the riches that come with the Journey of Life. You’ll become even more fearful and you will always look to “play it safe”. And in business, in sports, or in life you can’t “play it safe”. You’ll get run over. You have to continue to grow and reach for new heights. And that means trying new things, reading new books, meeting and networking with new people, listening to new ideas and ways of thinking. You have to stretch. It can be painful sometimes when you are stretching. You might feel scared. But the reward will be great and you will feel great.
My daughter is 10 and she is going to be a fantastic entrepreneur. The way she thinks already is great. She notices opportunity and asks questions on how to provide a service to solve a particular problem. She inspires other kids and their parents too. I love to see that part of her. She is such a generous child too. She is always giving of herself and there is always much given to her in ways that we never saw coming. It’s wonderful.
To be an entrepreneur you don’t have to quit your job and start a business today. I know a few people who are entrepreneurial at their job. They look at their job as their business. They reach for new heights and go above and beyond to help their company succeed. Since you don’t own the company you might not always receive the reward that you deserve but if you continue to provide value to a company and get better you will be rewarded somewhere. It might take awhile but someone will eventually notice.
If your job doesn’t give you any opportunity to be an entrepreneur, or you really want your own business, you can start a business part-time without quitting your job. Carve out 8-10 hours each week for that. Get rid of time wasters like TV and use that time for starting a business. In the beginning you might use that time to just do some research about different markets so you can find the opportunity. Or you can interview people to learn about opportunity in the marketplace.
If you know what business you want to start then plan out what you will do with those 8-10 hrs each week. Work very hard during that time and then when it’s over, go and enjoy your family. Your family is most important. You must have joy in your life. Don’t just work, work, work. That’s not what we are here on earth to do.
and there are many Korean entrepreneurs who want to business to global market, but because of the language and culture difference, they tend to worry to get into global market, what’s your advices for this?
I can understand that completely. When you start a business there will be ‘unknowns’. Those are questions that you just don’t have an answer to. But you can’t let that stop you from getting started on your business or anything else for that matter.
To be honest, I don’t know how I am going to market TimeshareJuice to Korean timeshare owners or timeshare owners in Japan or China for that matter. But I didn’t let that hold me back. If you move towards your goal and visualize the end result with lots of passion, then the answers to your questions will emerge. Perhaps James, you are the answer to my question on how to introduce TimeshareJuice to Korea and our friends in Asia. I didn’t have an answer to that question and one day I get an email from you saying hello. It just happened.
Perhaps you can find a business partner in US that loves your idea as much as you do and he or she can handle business in US. You can be business partners. Maybe you can use Linkedin or Twitter to find that person. There are so many options today. It is the greatest time in history to be an entrepreneur.
and Erick, what’s your philosophy of life, company and success?
My life is really great right now. I am very grateful. I have a great family and everyone is healthy and happy. I also get to live in SoCal which is a big improvement from New Hampshire and the long cold winters. And of course I get to live the exciting life of an entrepreneur. The many ups and downs of that journey make my life very rich and interesting. It also makes it a little scary at times.
TimeshareJuice is focused on providing a tremendous amount of value to our target customers, the timeshare owners. That is our total focus. I get many questions about “monetization” and “profitability”. Don’t get me wrong, they are very important but I firmly believe that they will come once I provide value and a great user experience to my customers. I know many doors will open. If I don’t provide a great service, then it doesn’t matter what our “monetization” strategy is.
“Success” is all relative I guess. Most people think success is a lot of money. But there are people with a lot of money who are unhappy. There are also people without money that are unhappy too. So clearly, money is not the answer. There’s a lot more to it. I believe you have to be happy wherever you are at. No matter what. And I believe you have to find your own path in life. Don’t worry about what others say you should do. Go do what will fulfill you; what will make you happy. Then put all of your energy and passion into that and you will be successful. I have no doubt on that.
I laugh inside when a friend tells me how lucky I am to be running my own company. It’s very exciting to them. They also want to create a great impact on society and history by starting their own company. I laugh because they make more money than I do and they have prestigious positions at great companies but it doesn’t fulfill them. Everyone must measure success by their own standards not comparing themselves to someone else. Ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish with my life? What makes me happy? If you don’t ask those questions, your life will just go by and you’ll wonder what happened. It’s like being in the ocean. If you don’t steer the boat, the current will take you where it’s going not where you want to go. It’s the same way in life. If you don’t know where you want to go you’ll end up at some other place.
Also please remember to not wish away the journey just to get to the destination (your goal). During the journey is where it all happens. That’s the “Juice” of life. That’s where you learn everything and build yourself up to be better than you are now. You only get better by experiencing the journey. And once you reach your goal, you’ll have another so the Journey will just begin again. So please enjoy each day. It is a blessing.
And lastly, success is a measure of how you feel about YOUR life. Don’t sacrifice your family and friends so you can be successful in business. And don’t sacrifice your integrity either. You won’t feel successful overall if you do that.
how do you try to get motivated everyday, what’s your ways of feeling fresh and happy?
My family keeps me pretty grounded. Kids do that for you. I’ll have meetings and phone conversations with management of major companies and then go home and change a dirty diaper. Or my son will share his fruit with me that he already chewed on. He’s excited about that. My kids don’t care about Daddy’s meetings. They want to jump on my back and play. How can I not be grounded? Being a husband and father is first and foremost.
Each morning I write out my goals on a piece of paper. I focus on those goals. Then I write down the things that I can do today to move me closer to those goals. Then I work on those things. I try not to worry too much. I just do what makes the most sense to me to move me closer to those end goals. I find that most people start their day unfocused and work on things that aren’t moving you closer. They do “a bunch of stuff”. It’s a lot of busy work. It usually is whatever is put in front of you. You’ll be more productive and successful if you plan out the big picture and do the things that will move your closer to your goals.
I visualize my end goals each day. That makes me happy. Visualization is extremely powerful. And it’s a nice break from the depressing news that is being thrown at us all day every day.
and I’m sure everyone who hasn’t yet created a product or business model is dying to know how they can go off today and at least start. Could you just briefly break down what you’d tell them to do right now? What should they be doing straightaway to get this ball rolling?
Go and buy yourself a notebook. Nothing special, just a notebook. Whenever you have an idea for a business or product, jot it down right away. You know those ideas you get when you lie in bed or in the car or on the bus – those ideas. Make sure that notebook is always with you. Your family might think you are strange but explain to them what you are trying to do. Never miss a single note. Even if it doesn’t feel that important right now, you must write it down. Every time you have a meeting take your notes in the book. The one note you forget to write down might be the one note that is key to your success. So make sure you get them all.
Now do some research. Go read some books and talk to the “right” people. When you find something good while reading a book, write it down. It can be an idea for a business or product or an inspirational quote. Write it down. This book is the record of your journey.
Now go sit and talk to the right people. Set up interviews or meetings with influential business people in your area. Buy them coffee or breakfast or meet them in their office. Have well thought-out questions prepared for the meeting. Ask them what is a problem in business today that they know of? You might not want to solve that problem but write it down anyway. It’s all part of the journey. It will take you somewhere. Also ask them how they became successful. Success always leaves clues. Learn how they did it and you can do it too.
And would you please say the things that you want to say to korean readers especially to entrepreneurs in the field of internet business, before saying good bye?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to communicate with the great entrepreneurs of Korea. It is just so great that we can communicate and share thoughts so easily even though we are thousands of miles apart. I love it!
Secondly, these were great questions. They were very thought-provoking for me. I really enjoyed answering them. If the quality of this interview is anything like the quality of the Korean entrepreneur…look out world, here they come!
My parting thought is this: There is plenty of time to accomplish everything you want to. Simply write down (right now) what is important in your life (e.g., family, God, friends, business, your health, helping others, etc). Now take a look at your schedule last week. Where did you put your time last week? Look at it hour by hour. Did you allocate your time mostly in those 3 or 4 areas or did it get spent on TV, Internet, Video games, sitting in traffic, or other time wasters? Find out where your time went.
For this week, plan your week according to those 3-4 important areas of your life. Now allocate your time to them first. Plan time with your family (date night, make dinner or treat mom and dad to dinner, take your child to the park and be silly). Fill yourself up with your priorities first then do the other stuff. You’ll feel better at the end of the week and accomplish a lot more. Time management is essential if you want to be successful in life.
Always remember this great quote from Joe Campbell “Follow your bliss and the world will open doors where there were only walls.” If you do what you love and you’re putting all of your energy into it and you’re happy and feeling blissful, everything will work to make your goals happen for you. It’s like magic
Let’s go do something great!