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Tech Pitch: The Urban Collective

Offering a "wedding planner for rental search needs", this is the lifestyle-driven property service which aims to find you a house in ten hours or less...

Company name: The Urban Collective
Founders: Mayank Mathur (40), Valerie Vigouroux (38), Octavian Pop (28)
Background: Mathur was a technology investment banker at Morgan Stanley and Citi, before creating his first technology start-up in 2011. Vigouroux is a marketing and strategy expert with focus on brand development and go-to-market strategy. Pop has worked in the rental property industry for several years with both corporate and boutique brands.
Based in: Paddington, London
Launched: 12th July 2017

Very simply, what does your tech start-up do?

We make the rental search process easier for tenants with an innovative mix of technology and human interaction:

  • Lifestyle-driven rental search – Our free app UrbanCo enables tenants to discover areas and properties that match their key lifestyle criteria, like commute time to work, proximity to parks and schools, etc. in addition to the usual budget and bedroom number requirements.
  • Socially-enabled search – Tenants can add their family, friends or flat sharers to their search and invite them to join the app. This allows them to review properties, comment and share photos and videos, and organise viewings, facilitating much quicker decision making as everyone has the most up-to-date and comprehensive information.
  • Dedicated ‘Sherpa' – For those tenants who are severely time-poor or prefer to outsource, we have a dedicated ‘Sherpa’ service. These are local area experts who take the brief from the tenants, connect with estate agents to check available properties, organise viewings at preferred properties and help with securing the lease. Think of them like a wedding planner for rental search needs.

Tell us why there’s a need – what do you disrupt?

In the residential lettings market, the current model is primarily catering to the commission-paying landlords. There aren’t many people that really worry about the experience of those who actually live in the property – the tenants themselves!

According to the English Housing Survey, 62% of tenants are engaged in either full-time or part-time work. Our research shows that tenants spend around 40 hours on an average finding a new property (that’s a whole working week), while one-third of young professionals spend between 50 and 250 hours to find a property. That is a lot of time wasted in unnecessary research, phone calls, viewings and more.

Our mobile app streamlines this search process by allowing tenants to shortlist properties that best match their lifestyle requirements and collaborate with their small social groups to reach quick decisions, while our Sherpa service aims to cut down the time spent on home search to less than 10 hours for busy tenants.

Is The Urban Collective funded?

We see a substantial business opportunity in solving the rental search experience for tenants in the UK and beyond. Investments are required to build a long-lasting business that adds a lot of value to our target market. While we have self-funded the business so far, we are also planning to raise external funding in the near-term.

What were you doing before starting?

We returned from India in December 2015 and got re-introduced to the London rental property market as we looked for a new home. The search experience was essentially the same as it was when we last rented in London over 10 ago – painful.

Pop was one of the estate agents we met during our search, and one of the very few who went the extra mile to ensure the best outcome for the tenants.

What’s the best thing about being based in London?

London is one of the best cities globally for technology start-ups. We have a deep pool of talent available here across all parts of the business – tech know-how, design, marketing, funding etc.

We currently work from a co-working space in Paddington, which provides us with a highly flexible setup, access to other locations in Central London for meetings and a good network of other start-ups and professionals to expand our business connections.