New online market aims to help Ottawans complete bucket lists

New online market aims to help Ottawans complete bucket lists

A new online market is offering Ottawans a chance to tick some items off their bucket lists.

People looking for new experiences can use a website called Xpeeria.com to connect with others who can show them the ropes. It also lets hobbyists earn a few bucks by mentoring others.

"The whole premise is trying something new, opening your eyes, trying something outside your comfort zone," Xpeeria founder Joelle Parenteau told Alan Neal, host of CBC Radio's All In A Day Wednesday.

"It's not just another night out at the bar or just another movie. We're trying to make something that people will come to work Monday morning and say, 'Guess what I did this weekend?'"

From slaughterhouse rules to speaking German

Bucket list ideas advertised on the site include cliff jumping, mountain biking and making pasta from scratch. Some experiences get more attention than others, Parenteau said.

For example, there's a high demand for hiking, so Xpeeria put out a call to find more people in the region who are experts on local trails.

Other options are more extreme, such as race car driving or kite surfing, and some are skills-based. Customers can sign up to spend an hour learning to code or speak German, for example.

One experience, called "slaughterhouse," is advertised as "not for the faint at heart." It promises a behind-the-scenes look at how meat is portioned, packaged and stored.

Asked about some of the stranger experiences on the site, Parenteau said she doesn't think anything is odd.

"We are basically just enabling connections, saying, 'Hey, here's someone who is willing to share their hobby with you.'"

Site also hires coaches, hobbyists

The site's co-founder and software developer, Matt Guzzo, is also one of Xpeeria's coaches.

He bought a drone last summer and offers two experiences: An introduction to drone piloting and a lesson on how to use drone technology to capture high quality video and photographs.

"So if they have a nice lakefront property or if they want to see their house from above, they can come to me," Guzzo said.

The experience runs an hour. With a price of $75 for the introductory course or $150 for the more in-depth version, Guzzo said it's less expensive than hiring a professional drone operator.

Coaches and hobbyists get 80 per cent of the profits. The other 20 per cent goes to the company.

"I don't want to turn my drone business into a full-time career," Guzzo said. "It's more just I have this awesome piece of equipment and I love playing around with it as a hobbyist. If I can get some money toward batteries or a better drone through this, then I might as well just go for it."

A growing market

The practice of buying experiences appears to be a growing market. Airbnb is now offering a similar service in addition to connecting people with lodging. 

The competition is validating, Parenteau said.

"We still think our angle is differentiated enough because we're focused on local experiences," Parenteau said.

She started the company after moving briefly to L.A. While there, she tried surfing and dirtbiking for the first time and shared her stories on Facebook. The response she got inspired her to build the online platform.

"We're trying to tell you, you don't have to wait for a holiday to have a great time, there's actually really cool things to do right here in your backyard."