(l-r) Rob and Tom of Ideal Flatmate
Ideal Flatmate, a technology start-up which prides itself on being the ‘UK’s first compatibility based flatmate matchmaker,’ has launched in London.
The platform, designed by Cambridge professors, is based on an algorithm similar to that of dating websites and prioritises tenant compatibility in an effort to encourage long term rental relationships and tenancies.
The algorithm technology, which is functional after the user completes a simple 20 question survey, focuses primarily on the living habits and sociability of users.
Questions asked were found to be the most important when assessing living suitability in a study by Cambridge Psychologists Dr Paula Banca and Professor Mark P Haggard.
Founders of Ideal Flatmate Tom Gatzen (28) and Rob Imonikhe (26) came up with the idea for the platform following years of becoming increasingly frustrated with the revolving door of flatmates they had found through listing websites.
Gatzen said: “Both myself and Rob have lived in flat shares that ended up in disaster because we didn’t get along with our flatmates. We thought that there must be an easier way.
“We spent six months working to develop an algorithm and a 20 question survey to match people up. The premise behind it is finding the right people to live with rather than focusing on the property.
“For landlords and letting agents, it’s the perfect solution as the site is free to list and it offers a great opportunity to get more visibility in alternative areas of the market, particularly amongst tenants with the right intentions - in search of long term relationships which ultimately facilitates longer term contracts.”
Imonikhe added: “We started it a couple of years ago as a side project and it has snowballed ever since, we really enjoy it. We then had our soft launch five months ago which went really well and people started to use it. Then four months ago I decided to quit my job and go full-time with it.
“We self-funded the business initially before we received some funding from private investors. In terms of advice we have been lucky to work with a couple of mentors who have provided great advice on a range of topics.
“This has been a huge help as we aren’t from a business background. There are so many things you have to do when you launch a business which you’d never think of from managing our books to dealing with HMRC. It’s a constant learning curve!”
The entrepreneurial duo are confident that the emphasis on compatibility will reduce rental turnover rates on properties significantly and attract house proud tenants wanting to make the property a home.
“We’ve tried to make the site as user friendly as possible, which will make it more attractive to prospective tenants as well,” said Gatzen.
The free trial for landlords and letting agents is in place until Spring and Ideal Flatmate offers assistance in achieving the optimum listing for properties.
Since its initial soft launch phase in November, the site has had more than 30,000 users, over 3,000 people have registered and over 1,000 properties have been listed on the site.
“We’ve had overwhelming positive feedback from letting agencies thus far,” said Imonikhe.
“We recently heard from a letting agent who had a property listed on a well-known listing site for three weeks with no interest, he put it on our site and after two days had found a full group of tenants and a 12 month contract.”
Launching initially in London, the platform is currently only accessible via their website but the pair have plans to launch an Ideal Flatmate app and are hoping to roll the business model out nationwide throughout the course of 2017.
Imonikhe concluded: “We are looking to launch our app in the Summer. Our focus at the moment is to make the website mobile-friendly and the user experience as friendly as possible. We’ll then look to roll-out the app.
“With limited investment and marketing we now have over 3,000 registered flat sharers. They’ve really been engaging and using the site the way we thought they would and the feedback has been amazing. The process is really working.
“The next step is for us to come back to the market with the data and the evidence that this is working – raise funds to drive further growth and expand across the UK so we can bring the technology to more people.”