“Imagine…after months of searching for the perfect apartment, you finally did it!!you found the perfect house, close to work, recently renovated and within the budget! It even has a roof terrace!!but oh wait…it also comes with a flat mate! who is sloppy… and forgets to pay the bills…and he ate your sandwich! your SANDWICH!!!”
It is this kind of situations that Ideal Flatmate aims to eliminate.
Ideal Flatmate is a UK startup which takes house hunting to another level. In similar housing platforms, users would search among all the available properties or rooms trying to pinpoint the most appropriate one. On the other hand, landlords and flat sharers would upload a listing of their property (along with rules and preferences), hoping to increase the chances of renting it. Indeed, renting an apartment or room became easier with these platforms. However, what they could not guarantee was the success of cohabitation. The launch of Ideal Flatmate might mitigate this tricky situation. The platform came to shake things up, by adding a little of “matchmaking” in the mix. Users are asked to complete a 20-question survey (devised by 2 Cambridge professor) with questions focused lifestyle, living habits and personality traits. Then though a dating style algorithm, Ideal Flatmate pairs users with compatible flat mates. The idea behind it is not completely novel. Some roommate matching startups already exist in the US; although, they are targeted to students only. The platform is the first to enter the UK market and for the time being it is available for London flat sharers and landlords.
How it works
The perfect roommate is 5 steps way:
- Users can either advertise their available room or search for one among the listings.
- Ideal Matching
- Users fill in the on-site survey. It takes 20 questions for the personality matchmaking algorithm to find and suggest the most suitable potential flat mates.
- Get to know each other
- Users can chat and discuss with their matches through the message board. They can also create groups to find people to fill larger properties.
- Meet up
- Users are now ready to take that “relationship” further and arrange to meet face to face!
- Secure your place
- Users can move in and start enjoying the shared living experience.
Users primarily save time. Finding the right place to leave is like searching for a needle in a haystack. That applies especially to the London rental market where supply is currently on the rise(savill.com,2017). Browsing through a dozen of listings and subsequently meeting with numerous applicants,is time consuming. The tailormade suggestions of the platform mitigate this issue. The invested effort is also low, the platform is easy to use and even the survey is simple and quick to fill in. Furthermore, users are relieved from the stress and discomfort of ending up with unsuitable flat mates. In general, the platform comes at a low cost for the majority of users since browsing properties and flat mates is free of charge. However, in order to contact potential flat mates, users have to pay a subscription (either £4.99 for a week or £8,99 for a month). The subscription fee is a little bit pricy, albeit is more economical than the fees of competitive platforms (e.g Rival Spareroom charges £10.99/week and £23.99/month for complete access to the listings).Last but not least, specifically for landlords, placing a listing is also cost free.
Letting agents apart from being advertised, they also enjoy a grace period, since they also pay no fee.
To this point, Ideal Flatmate has not reached its full potential when it comes to maximizing its pay offs. The only source of revenue comes from the users that opt for the full functionality subscription. The platform is also available only on the London market, so the pool of potential users(and subscriptions) is also limited. However, the platform is backed up by government seed funding,which has probably covered at least the development costs.
Value Co – Creation
- Users co-create by providing all the necessary information to facilitate the house/flat mate hunting process. By completing the survey, both flat sharers and flat seekers, provide the data (property/personality/preference data) for the matchmaking algorithm to work. Provided that the algorithm is accurate in pairing the right people, the chances of finding the perfect property with the most suitable flat mate increase. On the other hand, it becomes possible for landlords and letting agents to pinpoint the appropriate tenants (and essentially avoid short term contracts or early terminated contracts).
- Ideal Flatmate benefits either way. The company does not own any property. It is essentially the intermediary that facilitates the whole process, by connecting and matching landlords with tenants and flat seekers with flat mates. Moreover, an amount of revenue is guaranteed since they have a subscription model (the company will have an income even if users do not find what they wish for)
Regarding the institutional environment the company adhere to EU regulation (privacy,cookies,age limit and use of personal data).Since the company does not own any property it also not liable for any damage that was not foreseeable or caused by other user(Terms and Conditions).Overall,even though the idea might not be entirely unique,it is quite promising since it could solve a long-standing problem.To reach its full potential the company ought to start charging a fee for landlords’ listings and letting agents’ advertisements (company owners have stated that they will soon begin to do so). Currently, the platform is limited to the London market although within the year it is likely to be launched across the UK. If it proves successful in accurately matching people and Londoners indeed embrace it, the platform could potentially expand to other European capitals facing the same problem…hello Rotterdam!!