Member Feature: Hunter Block From Offsiter

Member Feature: Hunter Block From Offsiter

Member Feature
September 23, 2021

Hunter Block pictured, CEO of Offsiter.

Every month we feature some of our Everything Marketplaces community members to help highlight their story, their journey building their marketplace, and get a glimpse at what's ahead.

In this member feature we highlight Hunter Block, who's the CEO of Offsiter. Offsiter is a marketplace for company retreats & team building experiences. Since Hunter joined Everything Marketplaces, he's scaled Offsiter to being used by top companies like Pinterest, Netflix, Looker, Google, Brex, Facebook, Apple, PayPal, and more.

So what’s your background briefly and what led to the idea for starting Offsiter?

My background is in product design and helping early stage startups. Through my experiences, I saw how startups and big companies alike struggled with scaling company culture. The idea for Offsiter initially came from operating StartupCabin, which is a small retreat house in North Lake Tahoe designed for product design teams and startup off-sites. All of our guests asked what they should do while at the cabin, where they should go next, and so I realized there was a larger opportunity for a marketplace of retreat venues and team building experiences. 

What were some of the first steps you took to build Offsiter? What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?

Offsiter launched in Santa Cruz back in 2017. I initially used Squarespace to hack together a simple marketplace experience with a homepage, destination overview, and listing pages. I offered to list partners on Offister in exchange for a 10% commission. I was building every page by hand, offered photography to anyone who didn’t have great images, and it was very manual. I was able to onboard about 10 partners doing this before it was taking too much time to do everything manual. I realized this wasn’t scalable, but it was a great way to validate the initial concept and need for Offsiter as a marketplace.

At what point did you start to see supply wanting to join, an increase in demand, and start to build initial liquidity? 

Once I had single destination pages for popular locations, adding supply became easy as folks wanted to see their brand next to the other listings that they recognized. I continued to slowly add partners, then Offsiter’s SEO started to kick in and drive organic inbound leads. With this piece of the funnel working, we added a Sharetribe component to the marketplace build that enabled partners and planners to interact directly on our platform with P2P marketplace functionality that Sharetribe enabled. We then re-launched with this new and improved marketplace in Q4 of 2019 and quickly saw organic bookings happening on our platform.

Who is Offsiter for and can you share some of the companies that are using it?

Offsiter helps anyone planning a team offsite or company retreat. Our marketplace accounts are free and planners can book directly with our network of trusted partners. Folks that need more help can work directly with our offsite planner and concierge team. Our B2B offering helps organizations manage the offsite planning process across the enterprise.

Through our marketplace, concierge services, and platform, we’ve helped 100’s of executive assistants, team leads, managers, and startup CEO’s deliver amazing offsite experiences to their teams and employees. This includes companies like Pinterest, Netflix, Looker, Google, Brex, Facebook, Apple, PayPal, and more.

How did Covid impact Offsiter and potentially changed the direction & marketplace dynamics?

The start of the pandemic was brutal for Offsiter, but we were able to quickly add a virtual category to help existing partners highlight their new virtual team building experiences as offerings. When the vaccine started rolling out, we thankfully saw a huge surge in demand from remote first companies as they were redirecting facilities budgets into employee experiences. It’s fair to say that Covid really changed the marketplace dynamics, but we made it through it and have a promising new direction.

What’s been the biggest learning so far?

You’d be surprised how quickly people on both sides of a problem will give you a commission for making their lives easier. This also doesn’t have to be automated at first and you can start with a simple website to validate the problem you’re solving.

What’s ahead for Offsiter?

We spent the summer working closely with Brex and a handful of other remote first companies to build a SaaS B2B toolset on top of our marketplace. This new offering is designed to help remote first companies plan and manage offsites with the future of work. More specifically, it’s also helping employees connect before, during, and after experiences. 

We’re really excited to launch this soon and would love to chat with more remote first companies about what we’re working on.  

Connect with Hunter in the Everything Marketplaces community.