Ludwina Dautovic is a serial entrepreneur. She recently launched The Room Xchange, which has the potential to change the way millions of people live and solve huge issues surrounding housing affordability. Essentially, it connects busy hosts with a spare room, with guests, who exchange a couple of hours of help around the house each day in exchange for a place to stay.
Here Ludwina writes about her journey from being a tech virgin to tech entrepreneur.
I began my tech career back in the analogue days. Pre-internet, pre-mobile and pre-digital. I was creating content as an independent producer for the cable network, Optus Vision. As part of their cable launch, they had to provide a community channel where people, like me, could have the opportunity to produce content they would air. I had no idea what I was doing. I was pre-computer and was a virgin in this space in so many ways. But I did have gumption, passion and a desire to make it happen regardless of my lack of knowledge.
After producing three TV shows, Optus offered me the opportunity to create a media program to run in schools.
They gave me the use of an outside broadcast van, which included a full production kit and their network to air whatever I made. I created a hands-on video production workshop that we ended up running in over 300 schools in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne with the support of Optus and sponsorship from Apple. I was now an educator in media.
My love of technology at this time required me to understand how to convert analogue to digital. This fusion of analogue and digital was why I became fascinated with technology and the capabilities it provides us. As digital came in and analogue weaned out, our media program was no longer a viable service, yet it was one of the most revolutionary outsourced programs in Australian schools at the time.
The internet and the brick
At the time my husband got his first mobile phone, was approximately the same time that the internet was creeping into our lives. Neither were adopted quickly (not by today’s standards) nor was the transition a simple one. The technology available at the time was costly, slow and only available to the elite.
Our first mobile was a brick and was virtually useless as only few could afford one.
When the internet became accessible to households the world wide web became a phenomenon. I began to see the world open up right before my eyes. In 2006 I started The Red Tent Woman, a national women’s business network that brought women together for intimate dinners and an open forum to discuss business challenges and get the support they needed. I was able to grow it from a local idea to a national organisation through digital campaigns instead of relying on offline growth strategies. The website created a portal for people to connect directly and in as little as two years we were hosting events in five states in Australia.
Cancer struck but tech saved my sanity
In 2010 when I had my journey with Cancer and was recovering from radical surgery, I recalled asking myself ‘what can I do to keep my business brand alive that doesn’t require me to look good, feel good or go anywhere?’ It was tech that not only saved my business but saved my sanity. I decided to produce a podcast show as it was something I could do from bed and none would be the wiser. Little did I know at the time that I would go on to become one of the pioneers of podcasting in the B2B market and create a global reputation for myself from my bed. The following year, after my second surgery, I wrote a book. The following year on the day of my third surgery, my book was being launched globally in digital and print. It showed me that although I might have physical challenges, with technology I could continue to create and connect.
The Room Xchange
Fast forward to 2018 and I’ve just launched a peer to peer platform called ‘The Room Xchange’ that is changing the way people live.
We connect stressed, time-poor households with Guests who need affordable accommodation.
The Guest helps out around the house the equivalent of two hours a day and the Host provides food and accommodation. It’s a social enterprise that’s addressing multiple societal issues, utilising resources that already exist and it’s changing the way we live. I lived this way for over four years and because of technology, its enabled me to create a platform that directly connects both Hosts and Guests, from all over the world at the click of a button. No middle person is required, or middle management. It’s peer to peer. It’s a vast change from my first venture over 20 years ago.
Technology is a tool that affords us many privileges. I have experienced the difference first hand. The journey from analogue to digital has given me a great sense of appreciation for what we can now do. It opens up a plethora of opportunities for anyone who has access to a laptop and the internet. We have so much freedom today because of tech. It’s such a great resource. Embrace it, use it and allow it to turn your dreams into reality so you too can change the way you live.
Women Love Tech would like to thank Ludwina Dautovic for this article.
Find out more about the Room Xchange, here.