One to watch
A brand new PropTech company The Urban Collective launched its new ‘Sherpa’ service and enhanced rental search app UrbanCo on Wednesday, which aims to revolutionise the rental market for tenants and bring the industry “into the 21st century”. The business promises to make the drawn out, painful process of renting quicker, simpler and more enjoyable through a unique mix of smart technology, property listing data and human interaction.
The company is the brainchild of Octavian Pop and married couple, Mayank Mathur and Valerie Vigouroux who developed the service after becoming personally fed up with the rental market and how it’s been geared towards landlords rather than tenants. When looking for a new home last year, the couple spent nearly 75 hours having discussions with 13 – 14 agents and viewing over 40 properties before finding their perfect home – and that was before the moving admin.
Frustrated by their experience, and confident there was a better way of renting, they partnered with the only estate agent they met during their search who really understood their personal challenge and wanted to help save them time, Octavian Pop.
The company’s aptly named ‘Sherpa’ service launches in London, before expanding to the rest of the UK, and is the first ‘enhanced’ lettings search experience catering to busy professionals, of whom a third currently spend between 50 and 250 hours finding a new property to rent. The service will help to significantly reduce the time it takes to find the right home and is being offered for a one-off introductory starting price of £600. Clients will benefit from a dedicated, hand-picked local expert who will take the heavy lifting out of finding and securing a property.
Every Sherpa has personal local knowledge of each client’s chosen region. Once assigned, they will establish their client’s dream home profile, understanding their property and important lifestyle needs. Sherpas then conduct a lifestyle-driven search on the client’s behalf, scouring listings, directly contacting agents and viewing potential properties in selected cases. Clients are shown a select shortlist of available properties that best fit their requirements, keeping viewings of the final selection to a minimum – saving valuable time. The Sherpa even helps to complete the documentation and secure the property.
According to The Urban Collective’s research, 28 per cent of renters find the process even more painful and time consuming when renting as a group, so in addition to the bespoke concierge service, The Urban Collective has created a new and free to use interactive app called UrbanCo that streamlines the process for couples, groups and families. The app is the first of its kind offering lifestyle-focused listings, with properties curated based on their proximity to things such as gyms and hospitals, or commuting options rather than simply price and location etc.
The UrbanCo app also allows collaborative chat and commenting, with link, image and video sharing to organise thoughts and feedback in one place – making it much easier, quicker and less painful for multiple people to find and agree on the perfect property.
Mayank Mathur, Founder of The Urban Collective, said: “The renting journey is significantly lagging behind customer service standards found in other industries and we know British renters are as fed up as we were. Nearly 29 per cent believe the industry is ‘out of date’ and 38 per cent feel tenants’ needs are not prioritised. We believe The Urban Collective is the only PropTech service that has been built to be 100% focussed on tenant customer service from the ground up. Our business model doesn’t rely on fees from landlords unlike other businesses, so we can ensure the tenant is always the number one priority.”
Octavian Pop cofounder of The Urban Collective said: “The property market has changed in the past two decades – more professionals and business owners are unable to or choosing not to buy, meaning they stay in the rental market longer. The current home search experience for tenants is broken. They spend too much time doing online research, connecting with a large number of estate agents and answering the same qualification questions again and again, etc. Our ‘Sherpa’ service model enables us to fully understand tenants’ requirements, connect with the market on their behalf and curate the properties that best match their lifestyle requirements, bringing the experience into the 21st century.”