- How she went from auto repair manager to app creator
- How Olesia deals with being a ‘serial remodeler’
- How a robbery turned into an idea about an app
Olesia Chikunova corporate background covers representing multi multi multinational manufacturers in marketing, project management and general management roles with p&l responsibilities. She’s also a serial remodeler, which we’re going to talk a little bit more serial remodeler turned entrepreneur, developing decision making tools for home updates. Her current position makes her a possessed persistent advocate for all homeowners to make a more sustainable decisions in their everyday home projects.
To learn more about the HomeWIP app visit HomeWIP.com
pssst…. want to be a guest on the show?
Will Hanke 0:06
Hello, everybody, welcome to the to the broadcast today. My name is Will Hanke. I have a company called window treatment marketing pros, we’re the premier digital marketing agency that specifically works with window treatment and awning companies across the US.
Will Hanke 0:23
So very excited to have you on here. Hi, Jamie. Hi, I’m brand spanking new. That’s fantastic. Thanks for jumping on today.
Will Hanke 0:32
Today’s agenda is pretty straightforward. I’m going to introduce myself, which I’ve already done. So that’s off the list. I’m going to introduce our guests we’re going to have, we’re going to have I’m gonna have some questions to ask her. We’re going to talk about the drapery app that she’s created, which is fantastic. And then we’re also going to have time for q&a. So if you do have any questions, or anything like that, I’m going to be doing a little housekeeping, at the same time and watching through the questions and trying to trying to keep all those so we can get everybody’s questions answered as well. So she also has a special offer for everybody that kind of sticks around today, which is fantastic and she’s been very generous with the with the happen and a special offer so I encourage everybody to stick around so so let’s get started. Olessia Chickanova corporate background covers representing multi multi multinational manufacturers in marketing, project management and general management roles with p&l responsibilities. She’s also a serial remodeler, which we’re going to talk a little bit more serial remodeler turned entrepreneur, developing decision making tools for home updates. Her current position makes her a possessed persistent advocate for all homeowners to make a more sustainable decisions in their everyday home projects. We’ll talk a little bit more about That too. So, Alicia, thank you for being on today.
Olesia Chikunova 2:03
Thank you will for inviting me. Pleasure and actually calculated birthday to you. I know you had a birthday last week.
Will Hanke 2:11
I did. I had a birthday enjoyed it on Saturday. Thank you very much. That’s very kind. Yeah. Well, first of all, of course, thank you so much for being on today’s show. Why don’t you give me the cut. We’ll start off with like a two minute elevator pitch about yourself and what you’re currently working on.
Olesia Chikunova 2:31
Unit today I call myself a homeowners advocate. The wonderful helps homeowners make better decisions in their home improvement projects. This is what it all started was. And actually this is exactly where homework that we’re talking today. Got a kickoff meeting. So see.
Unknown Speaker 2:54
Oh, exciting. Okay, that’s cool. I also know that when I was Looking over your bio, that you’d sent over, that you managed an auto shop, so tell me about that.
Olesia Chikunova 3:09
Yeah, I lucked out. You know, like, usually, you think that people like me would be managing your flower shop that I basically had to take over my family business, which turned out to be caution. And I took it over the worst possible time around the world crisis of 2008. Oh, so our Japanese partner walked out because of the crisis. And we were left with the business that we had to make cash flow and positive ads. Basically, it was three months old at the time to get from zero to around $2 million revenue.
Olesia Chikunova 3:56
And this was the first time I was personally Have with retail. And I loved it. You know, it’s so gratifying to see the response of people when you do something for them. And they’re, they appreciate it. And I think that’s, I still love this part of the retail experience. And that’s why I’m here.
Will Hanke 4:20
Wow, that’s, that’s pretty crazy. I know you had a crew of around 50 mechanics. I mean, this was no organization.
Olesia Chikunova 4:27
No, it’s actually still is.
Olesia Chikunova 4:31
I’m still on the board of that company.
Olesia Chikunova 4:35
Yeah, we still service to about 60 people.
Will Hanke 4:41
Oh, wow. Okay, so in the middle of that, I’m assuming in the middle of that is when you met your business partner?
Olesia Chikunova 4:49
How? No because that was in different country or in your move to us about five years ago. Okay, and moved in summer and in January we decided to go for Christmas break. And we landed and received the message that the house that we’re renting out here in as I say very respectable, trust me it’s always in the top 10 most expensive neighborhoods in America and the house was burglarized.
Will Hanke 5:23
Olesia Chikunova 5:24
And we came back and the police told us that guys you’re inviting problems in because we don’t have any window treatments. And then I became a homeowner looking for window treatments
Olesia Chikunova 5:43
Olesia Chikunova 5:44
And this is how I met Sherry. Because I’ve tried to you know, use your old retail stores and be in the machine stores and I’ve tried some Well, I was a usual for one year like tried to get some Cool, super fourth and final issue kind of one more about because of the customer service. Wow. Yeah. And so we had a lot of windows in the house. So it took us some time to complete the work. And by the end of it, we were kind of past friends. So she was when I started thinking about what sort of business I could develop here because I, I wasn’t used to the contrary, wanted to make myself useful. So I came to come to this idea of can we make something so that homeowners will have an easier time than I did? You know, like, how difficult can it be to get Window Treatments? Why do I have to spend two months you know, like running around and asking everyone, etc. So I was talking to her about this idea, like why don’t we make something that they will and show people step by step, how they could, you know, accomplish what they want to accomplish. And she was looking at me and you know, She says, I wish I had something like this windows. And, you know, when they when you see an opportunity, you take it right, right? You’re like, oh, why don’t we do that. And at that point, obviously, I knew zero about window treatments. Bad she was in the business for close to 25 years at the time. She learned it from the people who were in business for several generations. Right. So, we teamed up.
Will Hanke 7:34
We have a lot of clients that seemed to be family businesses, or they’re passed down generation over generation, you know, 50 6070 years. It’s pretty incredible to see that so but you know, the newer ones coming up, still have to learn the industry, but they, they they’re lucky because they get to learn at an early age in most cases.
Olesia Chikunova 7:55
Oh, yes. And and I think this is what made our Cut duration, so to say, our business partnership, so hopefully useful to our users, because she has all the knowledge. And I had, you know, the persistency to work with the software engineers to put that knowledge in the program that makes sense to people, even as they save us time.
Will Hanke 8:22
That’s awesome. So, so what was your connection to design that? Or how did how does that play into this?
Olesia Chikunova 8:31
In my marketing roles, I’ve always been in design, I’ve designed products, I designed printed materials. I bet by that time already, I’ve designed several interior I’ve done several interior design projects as well in several countries, so and I, you know, I don’t do things halfway, if I need something, I actually go take a course with with it, you know, like, so I’ve done some coloristic said Dunkle cement DEEK for the chip, Kelly little bits and pieces here and there. And I still do ask if I need to learn something I will I will look up your own stuff that is close to us. So is there anything going on there? Yeah, so I picked a lot details along the way. And and then the main thing was just make it user friendly. And when you intimate with people for the word unit share was Sherry was testing everything on herself. First of all, because she’s very, she’s a perfectionist. So if you see anything on the app, that is not perfect. That means I forced her to push it out. Somebody else’s feedback.
Will Hanke 9:51
Oh, that’s great. But having that person that is in the industry to bounce things off of Wow, that’s that’s fantastic.
Olesia Chikunova 9:57
Yeah, actually security couldn’t be here today. She never Almost never takes holidays. Oh, today is the day she’s actually coming back from one. So if she was, you know, static somewhere, she would have joined, but she’s actually on the road today. Oh, wow.
Will Hanke 10:13
That’s awesome, though. That’s really nice to have. So you mentioned? Well, I mentioned in your bio, that you’re a serial remodeler. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Olesia Chikunova 10:24
You know, as my husband puts it to, I’m more sensitive to environment than most people. So we, I think I’ve done the coaching model when I was 19. And that was a long time ago. Since then, we build about four houses from scratch. There’s several get outs. And I’m right now in the middle of several projects, one I’m doing for myself, and there are a couple of others when I’m helping other people. So I you know, like I do know what I’m talking Right, I am best line for my subs because I always ask you, I don’t understand what the sequence of things that said, Sure, I will drive him crazy. Like, explain to me why are you doing it now?
Will Hanke 11:15
Interesting. And how many projects or how many countries have you done projects in?
Olesia Chikunova 11:21
Well, that’s a good one. There are, well, obviously one country where I’ve come from, and that’s Russia. And, and I’ve done that in a couple of towns there, including Moscow. I’ve also done one in Latvia. I’ve always done some decoration projects in camps and in Norway. So I’ve covered a lot of ground before I landed here. Wow, okay, that’s beautiful. People make fun of me because I’m moving more and more to the west. So we’ll see why we exist.
Will Hanke 11:55
Yeah, so is the design different here than say France, I would assume There’s some differences.
Olesia Chikunova 12:04
You know, it’s I’ve just been actually discussing this with a friend yesterday who is from Germany. And both of us agree that there is one difference that is striking especially in I’m not that funny live in the East Coast mode, but it here definitely there is a kind of damper a mentality in construction, what people tend to do something for resell rather than for themselves. While in Europe, we built to last, right if we’re building the house in better stead for several generations, okay. And yeah, might like my favorite town is Florence in Italy. Yep, there is a building there. And the church across the street that has a presto that shows that building back in 1600 Oh, cool. And I think Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s cool. Yeah. And so my personal design project, they will be always more colorful than what you see here. Right. I also see that there is a lot of Scandinavian and design coming here now. Oh, interesting. Okay. She is totally as you know, like combining neutral colors with moods.
Will Hanke 13:32
Interesting. Okay. Well, cool. Well, let’s talk a little bit about your app. I heard you say earlier home whip, do you call it that? Or do you call it home Wi Fi?
Olesia Chikunova 13:44
Actually home we stands for home, work in progress.
Will Hanke 13:47
Work in progress.
Olesia Chikunova 13:48
Yeah. Okay. So because it, you know, is
Unknown Speaker 13:55
What inspired you to create the app? I know you said there was the burglary in that kind of Is that what set you on this particular thing, particularly to build the app?
Olesia Chikunova 14:06
Well, that was what Sherry and I were talking about. And we started when we when she mentioned that she’s interested in something that will help her with orders. We started working in it. And obviously, it all started with how can we get from measures to estimates and we had to go step by step because every step leads to a different, you know, if you if you decide to make shapes, that’s one calculation, you can decide to make trades. It’s not that complex. Right. And then there’s all also customers who, you know, like, I don’t know, people who are listening to us now that in charrisse experience when you work at the client’s home, clients want to look over your shoulder Exactly you’re doing so we have to decide what type of prices were put it yet and the current solution is retail so that you can always show what you’re doing to clients without being afraid of showing off your discount. So, wherever right The second thing that we kind of tackled straight on is you know there are there are always people who cannot make up their mind very quickly so they need some time to lose it the shame is that the trade isn’t draping share, we made it easy to duplicate windows so that you could show several errands and the estimates for them as soon as possible.
Will Hanke 15:46
Okay. And by as soon as possible. Do you mean at the at the person’s house?
Olesia Chikunova 15:53
If need be, but it also it depends how you as a Window pro for the plans because some of them will just come in measure quickly go back to the office and boots there and then send out the sms send a quote. But that’s exactly what makes so useful because you’re sending the quote thinking that the customer still thinking about what we’ve talked about like a Dre, by the time she receives the quote has already changed her mind and it’s a shame. So we made sure that we put all the calculations straight away that if this change of mind thing happens, you don’t have to go back to measure again. You already have all the data they need in that,
Will Hanke 16:43
right. Okay. Okay, I like to throw something out to the audience. And if you guys want to put something in the chat there, what is the most painful step in drapery, the drapery ordering process? I’d be interested to hear what kind of responses you have. I know that Lisa, you’ve already mentioned clients changing their minds. That’s obviously a painful one. Maybe I’ll throw a couple out incomplete orders. How does that? How does how does your app kind of work with that?
Unknown Speaker 17:23
It doesn’t like to go forward until you gave me all the numbers. It will not go let it do the next step. And I think that’s something that a young interior designer will appreciate, because that prevents you from making mistakes. And I think that’s what those were those showrooms that take on interns, during summertime, for example. They will benefit from that as well because we can set to you in turn out. You know what can happen at the be up and running.
Will Hanke 18:02
Okay, that’s good. I think the you know, another thing maybe that’s that’s painful as business owners being maybe not afraid of technology but afraid of the change and not worry, you know, wondering how that’s going to work for them or benefit them.
Unknown Speaker 18:21
So well lost again. Can you repeat it again?
Will Hanke 18:24
Oh, sure. I think one of the other things is business owners that are afraid of technology, or concerned about using new technology, I think, you know, teaching some of the interns is a great way to thwart a little bit of that.
Olesia Chikunova 18:40
I would didn’t turn the table completely. I’ll tell them, you know, what you don’t know how to do you go this app, and then show me that you can use it. Right? I wouldn’t even waste time on you know, like, my time on this technology. If I’m not comfortable with them. I’ll get them to teach me because you know, like you live best what you do. So I think it’s a win win on both sides, saving time in training and also getting yourself acquainted with their with something new. And I have to repeat that we did try to make it as user friendly as possible, because we know that our installers, I’m not thrilled with getting to know all this new stuff. You know, we are not exactly college students, so it’s not as easy for us ourselves to stop using it. But I also have to say that Sharon after she started using her own app, and I came to her once and also like, you know what we have to type in how much time it takes me with the app to calculate robocalls and how much time it takes you without the app to calculate robocalls head us I’ve been told Luke interiorized was like precious, like, do you want me to go like back in time and do it the old way? And I go again, because I have to tell people, you know, like how much time you save, but just using the calculation that will pop up the carriers straight away.
Will Hanke 20:17
Right? Yeah. Well, so I know one of the benefits you just mentioned is saving time. What other benefits are there for using the app?
Olesia Chikunova 20:29
I, I would say again, I think saves time is the only resource that we can offer feel. So I would say that saving time is the most precious benefit. The second is getting rid of paperwork, because you can send directions to stores and to the workrooms directly from the app to the email.
Olesia Chikunova 20:53
Okay, so you can get rid of the using fax machines or Scanning, etc, it can be done directly. And it won’t let you go any further if it’s incomplete, so totally kills that that happening as well.
Will Hanke 21:13
Okay, what is your journey been with the app? What kind of feedback have you received? How and what’s going on there?
Olesia Chikunova 21:23
Thank you actually for asking that feedback, because this, this is something that I will say this was one of my main challenges. And we go out and we talked to people. So one of the examples I can give for them to jump out to WC a conference, and we had people going through all of those. And we were, you know, taking down notes like, what is it exactly that they would like to add to the app? And I can tell you, we added some stuff that I did not expect to be enabled, like We want to be able to add any service to the order, you know, because people wanted to use both the drapes and say somebody’s going to have drapes and been one shutter and we don’t the shutter so they can now add shutter as just one of the wind in the estimates.
Will Hanke 22:17
Interesting. Okay, yeah.
Olesia Chikunova 22:19
And what are the number Oh, they’re not example is actually company usage because the company owner wants to see what is designed disruptive. Okay, so now they can send me an email, tell me that. Actually, we are the company out. I don’t know five. Designers set us up as a company. And we’ll do that.
Will Hanke 22:45
Okay, so it’s not just for an individual designer, there’s a there is a company mode or something. Okay. Interesting, and it gives out different reports assuming you’re using the company mode version.
Olesia Chikunova 23:00
Well, it’s it gives the company owner the opportunity to see what projects his designer is doing. Yeah, what I completed what project I completed, what you the words etc.
Will Hanke 23:14
Okay. And I would assume a lot of them now maybe are using, you know, Google Excel, or all these other pieces and trying to keep everything in line.
Olesia Chikunova 23:26
Yeah, yeah. And don’t forget paper and paper. I know it’s it’s still the biggest competitor most of the software companies that I know.
Will Hanke 23:40
Right? It makes sense. Yeah. So I know there’s multiple things that you can do with your app. If a window treatment were just to use one of them, say maybe the ordering piece how how would that save them time and money
Olesia Chikunova 23:56
it will still save you time when People change their minds.
Olesia Chikunova 24:06
Can you just give away a tip? trick is that this is something that I’ve already done for myself. I’ve done several demo projects in the app that people could log in and just look how would she’d order look like or how would drape or look like and I know that when the pro get phone calls all the time, like how much would it cost? So this is the opportunity to create a kind of demo window if you will. Okay, that will be a particular size that is popular in your neighborhoods or in your town and pick the fabric and the hardware that is again popula maybe several Just have it ready. If somebody calls and tells you like, how much would it cost, you can go, Well, what does a window do? Right? Like, so if that’s like a window, if you’re using the fabric that cost this much, it will cost you approximately that much. Okay. Yeah. And then it also gives you another kind of cue, because you know, we all operate in different kind of customer income brackets, right, somebody is doing watrous segments on the mid range segment. So this is a good way to judge if this is your custom Walmart. Again, save you time, right?
Will Hanke 25:41
Yeah. Yes. And saving time is saving money in the long run.
Olesia Chikunova 25:46
Yeah, exactly. And plus, you know, the cost of our app.
Olesia Chikunova 25:53
And it’s less than $10. Come on. Yeah.
Will Hanke 25:56
Yeah. Let’s talk about that. How can How could people get a Your app and what is the cost.
Olesia Chikunova 26:02
So they could log in on the computer, or they could go through the app store if they, if all they use is the Apple devices like iPad and iPhone. That’s the way to go. If they still prefer to go through the desktop. Version them, they should log into the desktop first and basically signing, signing register. Try it. We have free trial for one month in general, but we have a special offer with us today.
Olesia Chikunova 26:40
and please comment, if there is something that you don’t understand it don’t like it. We are here to listen and act on your comments. And I couldn’t, you know, like we’re not a big company. There’s just two of us. We just want to make something that will make your life easier and you We don’t you know, I don’t see we have our plans and their comments. So we are very welcoming that respect.
Will Hanke 27:08
Yeah, I think that’s a huge thing to say, you know, as a as a marketing guy, using a lot of software and things like that support is a huge part of deciding whether you want to use something or not, first of all, having a free trial period. Fantastic. That really lets me try it out. But the fact that you know, you can also reply to or submit support tickets, things like that and get things fixed, or changed or under, you know, understand how to use it. That’s fantastic.
Olesia Chikunova 27:37
We even go one step further, because we know how hard it is to, you know, to get yourself a new habit. And, you know, if you’ve been doing it for 20 years, it’s a pretty hard habit to break. So we have a complimentary service to put your pricelist to the to the app as well. So Again, sending us your retail price will upload it to the way and that will make that will make it easier to stop using it.
Will Hanke 28:12
Oh wow. Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Will Hanke 28:15
Okay, so tell me about the special offer I know that you as you mentioned you have a free one month trial is that the best?
Olesia Chikunova 28:26
Exactly and we were thinking that you know, Excel my is perfect time to learn it usually people in this case clients go on holiday so you have more time. So we thought why don’t we give the opportunity to the listeners for the whole summer to try. And, you know, like get rid of all the things that are not working for you.
Olesia Chikunova 28:53
And then going back to breathe Thanksgiving season when everybody suddenly realizes then need you window treatments. You’ll be all ready to roll. So
Will Hanke 29:04
yeah, yeah, it’s always a big time for a lot of our clients right before Thanksgiving.
Olesia Chikunova 29:10
Christmas, it’s straight off the Right. Right. It doesn’t give you a reason.
Will Hanke 29:14
Yeah. Wow. So so all summer for free. That’s pretty fantastic. So, so the best way to do it is to go to Home Wi Fi. com or, or use the the App Store. And either way for the summer offer, it’s it’s desktop. Yeah.
Will Hanke 29:36
Okay, that’s how we did it. Okay, perfect. Well, cool. That’s, that’s pretty. That’s pretty awesome. I appreciate that. So that’s fantastic. Okay, um, let’s see if we have have any questions. If anybody has any questions, go ahead and pop those in there. We’ll make sure to answer those and I will share I will share the link to to your website after that right now. So everybody has that. And so that’ll be in there as well. If anybody wants to follow up with you, they just need to use the the website version to get to that, so awesome. Well, thank you. Thank you for being on today. We’ve had some, some, some great ideas. And I love I love what you’re doing. This has been fantastic. And I appreciate you coming on today and kind of sharing some of the different things as well.
Olesia Chikunova 30:32
Thank you. I’m looking forward to know more about how you work with your plants as well. So I hope one day you can do an interview as well. Oh,
Will Hanke 30:42
fantastic. Yeah, that sounds like fun. All right. Well, well, thank you again, I really do appreciate it. And I hope everybody has a great day. We’ll follow up with a link to to her special offer afterwards. Thank you. All right. Thank you.