How a lifelong entrepreneurial spirit led Hannah Pobar to create the innovative location rental company, Home Studio List
Describe your business in a few words?
Home Studio List is a platform of styled homes available to rent by the hour for photo shoots and film productions, in 30+ States all across the US. Our handpicked community of hosts enjoy working with elite brands and photographers, and make money on each rental of their space.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
As a former professional photographer, I experienced first hand the need for unique photoshoot locations. Dodging tenant laws, I tested the idea for Home Studio List by renting out my downtown San Francisco apartment by the hour to photographers, brands, and agencies to use as the backdrop to their creative productions! I have always been entrepreneurial and have had many past businesses, but the success of Home Studio List is more than I could have dreamed!
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I put myself through college as a professional photographer, shooting weddings, portraits, and more! After that, I joined the world of startups and worked as a UI/UX designer and product manager at retail and e-commerce companies in the tech mecca, San Francisco. This helped me understand how to scale businesses and helped me build the skills to create and run my own company. Home Studio List is now 4 years old and growing like crazy!
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes! I had my first business at just 9 years old, Woof Woof Waffles. I was too young to work a waffle press to make the dog treats, so my mom would help. I sold my dog treats door to door. I was honestly terrified of dogs, but I was not shaken by the challenges of entrepreneurship!
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Almost all Home Studio List marketing has been word of mouth and organic. We have built a profitable business using creative outreach methods and a ton of persistence. When we first started, I was literally sending hundreds of cold emails per day! It worked well, but we have since garnered the learnings from that approach and have configured better and more scalable solutions!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
The beginning of the Coronavirus quarantine was an especially difficult time for us. As soon as we understood the lockdown restrictions, our team personally reached out to everyone who had a reservation with us to understand their comfort with moving forward or to offer a reschedule. We revised our policies to be extremely understanding – as a small business ourselves, we understood first hand just how difficult that time was for everyone and morally, I wanted to make sure we did the right thing. Prioritizing the safety and experience of our guests and hosts was by far the right decision, even with the financial impact on the business. I am so proud of our team for how we handled that timeframe! Community and people first. Always.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
We just reached an exciting milestone, over $1m in Home Studio List requests! It is incredible to see how demand for Home Studio List has grown over the past few years.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I like to ask candidates how, as a manager, I can help them grow in their role and in future endeavors. I always hope that our team feels fulfilled, inspired, and a part of a company that cares deeply for their experience and goals. The personal development of our team is so important to me, and our team is incredibly close!
When it comes to hiring tips, I think it’s extremely important to really take your time in making hiring decisions. As an optimist, I used to get really excited about candidates without doing the necessary due diligence to understand if they were truly the right fit for the role. That has been a very important lesson to learn and has helped me be so much more strategic in hiring.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
While the early days were definitely not the easiest to navigate, I’m so proud to say that we had our best year yet, with over 30%+ year over year growth in the midst of the pandemic!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Growing! I’m excited to be launching new cities all over the US and furthering the creative community.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
So many lessons in such a big year! One of my most treasured is probably reconnecting with gratitude. 2020 really brought me back to myself, and in turn I’ve really leaned in to a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for all things – challenging situations included!
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Some days, you really have to source your own happiness and support which is not always easy! I am grateful for the grit, determination, and confidence that I have grown into over the past few years running this business.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
This year I was introduced to Abraham Hicks, and to say I’m obsessed is an understatement! I find her tapes so grounding and it’s become a daily ritual of mine to go on a walk while listening. To me, it’s like a form of meditation!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Everything in life is a trade off to me, so I don’t necessarily think there is this “magic” formula or solution that will always be possible to uphold at all times. That belief inspires me in a way – and helps me focus and prioritize accordingly.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. Wake up and think about having a great day! I like to lay in bed for a few minutes and think about how things are always working out for me.
2. Prioritize my to-do list visually and keep it short. The longer my list is, the easier it is to feel overwhelmed. When I’m in a pinch or my list just really is long, I break that big list into smaller lists so I can start clearing out tasks and get some momentum!
3. Make time to do nothing and get inspired! I used to really grind when it came to work, and while I was getting a lot done, I realized I had an impossible time with tasks that required a little more inspiration or creativity. I try to find some time each day to have to myself so I can make room to dream a little bit.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means having the determination to show up every day and striving to improve in integrity, humility, and courage. And bringing others along with you!