This woman’s startup gives users rent-free accommodation in exchange for chores

While undergoing treatment for cancer, Ludwina Dautovic launched a podcast on business leaders. She's now developing her startup, The RoomXchange While undergoing treatment for cancer, Ludwina Dautovic launched a podcast on business leaders. She's now developing her startup, The RoomXchange

Meet Ludwina Dautovic. She's a Melbourne entrepreneur and podcaster who has an excellent idea for those needing a little help around the home -- a platform offering users rent-free accommodation in exchange for assisting with household chores. 

Dautovic describes The Room Xchange as a startup connecting "busy people or empty-nesters with travellers", and says she came up with the idea after a daughter’s friend temporarily lived with the family rent-free, but gave back by helping out with everything from doing the laundry, to tidying up, to grocery shopping and driving.

“We could do with a bit of help around the house,” Dautovic says. “It’s just a matter of matching up the right set of skills and interests.”

The Room Xchange will be monetised through a pay-per-use model for hosts and guests. 

After some initial research, Dautovic and her team are planning to launch a beta site and will aim to secure some early capital to help them build it out and expand it into the US and UK.

“We’re about to go on our investors pitch,” she says. 

Dautovic adds that she plans to raise the capital with a pre-money valuation of $1 million.

“Building the main website has been complex – thankfully to a degree I have a tech background [and] ten years of digital experience,” she says.

Still, the risks are real. “We went from being mortgage-free to having another mortgage again. The pivoting process has been interesting as well, shifting from initial life experience to market potential, opportunity, developing that idea and maturing it, finding the right people to work with.”

Dautovic has also been busy acquiring a heavy-hitting list of commercial partners including Pitcher Partners and Legal Vision.

“I’ve got the most amazing advisory board,” she says.

Looking ahead, Dautovic believe The Room Xchange has potential to change how people live and connect with each other. Further down the line it could even help the elderly sustain independent living by connecting them with young houseguests who can help out in the home. 

To fellow female founders, Dautovic encourages them to stay positive no matter what. She knows this firsthand, having been diagnosed with cancer after some back pain led to the discovery of a tumour.

The bed-ridden entrepreneur started a podcast show on business leaders to keep her mentally occupied during the intensive treatment.

“I started podcasting to retain my sanity,” she says. “It’s hanging around the people you want to be when you grow up – I feel like I’m still growing up. People saw that regardless of really incredibly difficult things that anyone would have to experience in their life, I still kept going.

“I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt, the most supported I’ve ever felt and the most loved I’ve ever felt because I’ve backed myself with my money and I’ve established and created what I have today with such a little amount of it.

“This is where I’m supposed to be in my life right now.”

 This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on StartupSmart

Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.

Twitter: @DinushiDias

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