Housemates, a new Manchester-based tech start-up, is set to shake up the UK and international student accommodation market with the launch of its innovative online student property platform.
The launch comes after the business secured £100,000 of pre-seed funding from GC Angels to expand its platform across the UK and internationally.
Founded by tech entrepreneur Lydia Jones, backed by an experienced team from DEPT, Spareroom and Starling Bank, the team behind https://www.housemates.io/ claim the student accommodation marketplace will offer five times faster booking than its rivals.
Housemates is an end-to-end platform for students, landlords and student property operators that promises to bring much-needed transparency, efficiency and reassurance to the sector.
It is now open for exclusive early access to property owners ahead of the 2021/22 academic year and students will be able to make bookings from October this year. While it will initially cater for property owners and students studying in Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Melbourne it is also rapidly expanding its supply across other cities in the UK and internationally.
Lydia Jones says: “The student housing market is an area ripe for innovation and disruption. It’s 2020 and expectation when it comes to any online experience is high; we believe students deserve to be able to book accommodation in the same, hassle-free way they do holidays.
“We’ve spoken to thousands of domestic and international students and it is clear that audiences generally found existing processes slow, out-dated and lacking in terms of both transparency and security. International students in particular felt particularly vulnerable to being exploited by agents.
“Using feedback loops with both students and landlords we’ve identified new ways to deliver a faster, easier and more secure way to book accommodation that meets the needs of all users. As we grow our community across the UK we will continue to innovate based on real-time, evolving feedback and adapt to consumer demand.”
Lydia added: “The impact of Covid-19 hasn’t slowed our development of the platform, but we have taken into consideration the needs of students travelling from overseas to study in the UK to ensure we cater for changes in post-lockdown booking behaviour.
“Our whole approach and ethos is to build our product in a customer-centric way, and we’re looking to work with more like-minded forward-thinking purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) operators and individual landlords as we expand.”
Students can sign up to Housemates for free and see exactly what a property will cost, with no hidden extras. The end-to-end marketplace removes the need for letting agents and the associated fees, providing landlords and tenants with the opportunity to transact totally online.
It uses automation to speed up all parts of the booking process, with fast and reliable methods to populate and complete tenancy agreements and make secure transactions.
“Our mission is to help students move smoothly through their university life, starting with an effortless way to arrange their accommodation”, says Lydia. “By removing ‘the middleman’ we’ve streamlined the whole operation, taking 100% of the transaction online, and reduced overall costs for all parties.
“And as a start-up we have been able to be completely user-centric and data-driven, tailoring both the experience and technology around the needs of today’s students. We’re not trying to play catch up with a legacy CRM system like many of the current players in the market but have built our solution with a bespoke up to date technology stack.”
Jess Jackson, investment director at GC Angels, said: “It is extremely pleasing to see the impact that our funding has had on the development of a truly disruptive piece of innovation. Lydia and Housemates has enormous potential with this latest development, providing an easy to use solution for students looking for accommodation. This is a perfect example of the innovation that Manchester is known for, and we are confident that Lydia will continue to push boundaries in the sector as the company continues to grow.”
Housemates is continuing to grow its team, attracting talent from proptech, fintech and agency backgrounds who are now delivering Housemates’ product roadmap.