April 1, 2017
Member In The Spotlight: Rony Chammas
This month, we caught up with Rony Chammas, Founder/CEO of Peerspace, an SF based peer-to-peer online marketplace where people can find and rent locations.
Peerspace recently made headlines for raising an $11M in Series A funding and as a LebNet member, we couldn’t be more proud of Rony and his success.
He talked to us about his unique journey and what his advice would be for aspiring entrepreneurs.
How did you come up with your idea for Peerspace?
While attending business school in New York City, I was trying to find meeting space for a group working on a consulting project. On my walk to campus each day, I passed an art gallery that was often empty. One day, I walked in and asked, “would you be willing to let me have a meeting here and pay an hourly rate?” The gallery owners loved the idea. Once inside, we found that the meetings we held there were more productive, more creative, more inspired. I thought about how there should be a simple way to find these beautiful, underutilized spaces for people to create, celebrate and work. And the idea for Peerspace was born.
What was the first step you took in establishing the business?
The first step for any business should be conceptualizing the minimum viable product (MVP). I spent a lot of time researching sharing economy business models as well as marketplace fundamentals to make sure I completely understood what I was getting into. I wanted to build an open, two-sided platform with solid business fundamentals and a great user experience. I started designing wireframes for the functionality of the application and created a product spec document which became the engineering blue print for the architecture of the marketplace. My goal from there was to build the MVP app as quickly (and cost effectively) as possible. I located a development shop in Eastern Europe and worked with them over four months to launch the first version of the marketplace.
Following your recent success, what are your next steps from here?
My vision is that any activity outside of the home or office which requires a physical space should be bookable on the Peerspace site. We have made great progress in solving for many use cases such as meetings and film productions but we have more work to do to automate the booking process for more complex activities. Over the course of this year we will release new product features to continue driving towards this vision.
What advice would you give to young, aspiring Lebanese entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to think beyond the MENA region. While there is a strong need for innovation in Lebanon and the surrounding countries, the most disruptive ideas will have global reach and thus new concepts and technologies should consider the needs of a diverse and international user base.
Who is your role model?
My late grandfather, Nicolas Chammas, was my role model who instilled in me the values of professionalism, dedication, and creativity. At an early age he recommended that I “intern” as a gas station attendant at one of his stations in Lebanon. This experience became core to my growth as a young businessman and reinforced the importance of hard work and humility.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be?
I’d work on a product team at Apple 🙂