One to watch
We spoke to Ideal Flatmate and here’s what they had to say.
- Ideal Flatmate is the UK’s first compatibility based flatmate matchmaker. The platform, similar to dating websites, uses an algorithm designed by Cambridge professors that prioritises tenant compatibility to encourage more successful flat shares.
- The algorithm becomes functional after users complete a questionnaire that primarily focuses on their living habits and sociability.
- Ideal Flatmate wants to redefine the way people look for flatmates in London, with the aim to expand across the whole of the UK.
- Company: Ideal Flatmate
- What it does, in a sentence: The website uses a bespoke algorithm to match potential housemates based on their compatibility.
- Founded: October 2016
- Founder/s: 2
- Size of team: 10
- Your name and role: Rob Imonhike Co-founder and Director
What motivated you to found ideal flatmate?
We were both quite frustrated with current flat hunting sites, having had bad experiences with flat mates and couldn’t believe that there wasn’t an easier way to find housemates you got on with.
There are sites and apps for virtually everything so we thought it was strange that for such a big part of our lives, finding people we want to live with, wasn’t accounted for in the tech world. There are literally millions of interesting people living in London with a huge number of us flatsharing, so why hasn’t it been possible to connect with a group of people you think are cool and live with them for a while? Ideal Flatmate is the answer to that.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The way people live together is changing and more people than ever are renting. We believe who you live with is just, if not more important than where you live, so this should give people the chance to prioritise. Hopefully, more compatible flatmates means tenants save money, time and stress from living with ill-suited people by providing longer and happier tenancies. It’s an added bonus for landlords and letting agents as they won’t have unhappy tenants moving out after just a few months, causing an upheaval in administration fees once again.
What change do you think you can make to the industry?
Despite the PropTech market boom and the likelihood of its continued expansion, little attention has been paid to how people go about finding the right people to live with. The market is dominated by companies which are nothing more than property listing services – we can change that and make it a more personal, well-rounded and engaging process that puts human relationships first.
How do you make money?
At the moment, the service is free of charge for customers as we are focusing primarily on building our user base. The more people using Ideal Flatmate, the more diversity we have on our books and as a result, the higher the quality of matches for our users.
We are currently offering landlords a free trial to list their properties on the site but this will soon be over in summer. Our pricing for landlords, once we require payment, will be highly competitive in the market as our current competition charge in the region of £1000 a month.
How many people currently use the site?
Since launching, we’ve attracted over 30,000 users and there are currently over 3,000 properties listed on our site. The reaction from lettings agents has been overwhelmingly positive as well. A letting agent recently got in touch to tell us he had left a property for three weeks without interest but after he put it on Ideal Flatmate, he had a full group of tenants and a 12-month contract in just two days.
What’s the next step?
The next step is for us to come back to the market with the data and the evidence that this is working, secure more funding to drive further growth and expand across the UK, so we can bring the technology to more flathunters.
Where do you see the company in 5 years’ time?
We have the opportunity to build and grow into the largest community of online flathunters in the UK, as well as become an attractive portal for landlords and letting agents to advertise their properties. Once we have become established as a popular site used by flathunters across London, we will look to expand across the UK to tap into the growing flatsharing communities in other cities and university towns.
What are the major trends currently shaping the rental industry?
The number of people renting properties in the UK is growing rapidly as house prices, particularly in London, have become less affordable. Where flat-sharing has previously been seen as the preserve of students, recent graduates or those struggling to make ends meet, this is no longer the case. Societal changes such as people staying single for longer, higher divorce rates and a job-hopping culture, has culminated to push up the average age of a flat-sharer to 32. These market shifts have increased the size of our demographic and diversified the groups we can now appeal to.
A change that desperately needs to be seen in the market, however, is the UK’s attitude to the private rented sector. The stigma that surrounds those who rent is still very real for Londoners but by lifting the lid on tenancies and the real benefits it provides for those who rent in the city, it can become a more accepted way of life, leading to happier tenants in the long-run.
What distinguishes Ideal Flatmate from its competitors?
People. We spent a lot of time working out how best to actually match people based on their living preferences and we are going on a constant journey with our users to improve this over time. We are on a mission to make PropTech personal and turning flatsharing from a chore to an opportunity for the entire city. We have a deeper and longer term goal with Ideal Flatmate, so it’s important people know that we aren’t a listing website.
What were your bad experiences with flatmates?!
The worst experience I have had was when two flatmates fell out in a big way, putting a lot of strain on the rest of the house and leading to an atmosphere, which meant we all had to move out in the end.
What is your business mantra?
I don’t really believe in one mantra. Every challenge is different but the most important things for me are having a good team and having a shared vision.
Funding: We have received £120,000 from private investors. We are currently conducting our first funding round.
We expect a tenfold increase in visitors to the site over the course of 2017, aiming to hit 100,000 monthly visits by December 2017.
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