No White Walls work hard to make sure their consumers get the very best from co-living.. “Co-living is much more than just living under the same roof as other people”. In our latest Member’s Spotlight Interview, we interviewed Olga Nechaeva, Co-Founder and CEO of No White Walls where we discuss experiences, challenges and the technology behind their organisation. #WomenInPropTech.
Q: As a CEO and a woman in PropTech, are there any challenges and do you have any advice for aspiring women in the industry?
A: Before I worked in property I worked in media and retail for 20 years, and challenges would be similar: it’s less about opportunities presenting themselves, more about all the other things we have to juggle as women are still expected to carry on a lion’s share of child rearing and home life management. The sheer weight of responsibility for driving your business while having another full time job is simply tough, so ensuring a good support circle within your family, friends and childcare is important. I’ve taken my own previous work experiences to implement a flexible work culture at No White Walls, I try to lead by example and encourage my staff to work around home priorities.
Q: You have extensive knowledge in the property industry, how have you seen tech evolve in the industry?
A: It is fascinating to watch how different areas of the property industry are being on some instances disrupted, and key technology trends like blockchain, big data, IoT, AR/VR, AI, crypto are finding their spot within the property sector: some passing, some to stay. From online estate agents to marketplaces, tech had significantly improved the processes surrounding renting and buying, as well as opened totally new markets, like AirBnB or Homestay. I’m seeing a significant activity in the space management tech, driving a very interesting ‘space as a service’ trend which No White Walls is looking to develop further. As property is still a quite ‘traditional’ industry, I think there is still a lot to happen on the big data and IoT side, driving smart cities and smart homes. I expect more consolidation happening not just between the companies within a sector, but within technologies. This is partly where we stand: we are combining a marketplace/platform with the backend management software with the frontend community management, all integrated within a ‘housesharing’ ecosystem.
How do you expect tech to evolve in your company? Can you tell us of any upcoming developments in technology at No White Walls?
We’re a young startup, having just launched 9 weeks ago with the MVP level product. We’ve got an ambitious roadmap, but a lot of those decisions would be influenced by which of our services deliver the biggest traction. At the moment we’re focusing on three key pillars of service we provide to HMO specialists (agents or landlords alike): – dedicated, tech enabled marketing across industry platforms and social media; digitalised booking and on-boarding process, and community.
Areas of development for No White Walls are:
– Further enabling community through matching people to properties. We don’t believe any of the existing matching solutions do the right job, and we’ve got our own take on how a renter ‘fits’ into a houseshare. We’re just commissioned study of millennial renter-sharer with UCL and we’re hoping to develop AI enabled tech on this basis.
– Further simplifying the renting process through alternatives to viewing, online checkin etc, taking inspiration from companies like CitizenM.
– Exploring IoT and Smart Home opportunities to enable a renter to have similar standard of experience across all our spaces, possibly taking over their digital footprint with them in a click of a button as they move.
– Growing the brand recognition in order to step into build-to-rent and outside of the UK.
– I’m also personally very interested in further exploring ‘Space as a service’ concept and blurring lines of living-working-leisure to cater for further growth of freelance and mobile customers.
What separates No White Walls from their competitors?
We are looking to carve out our space by bridging marketplace and service designed to improve renters experience and create a plug in ecosystem. We are a place to find a houseshare accommodation, but unlike SpareRoom we curate our properties and we provide a full on-boarding follow up. Booking a viewing, issuing a tenancy offer, accepting it, paying holding deposit, doing references, signing tenancy documents, supplying all compliance documents – it’s one seamless journey. Unlike many online letting agents, we work exclusively with shared properties, and all our processes and models are designed for that. And unlike other marketplaces, we also provide property managers with technology to enable co-living lifestyle within the the properties. Shared living is all about the experience, the ambience, the atmosphere, the friendships, the customer care, the community – something a single let market is not set up to cater for. But we are.
How does No White Walls use PropTech to enable a community for co-living individuals?
For all properties under our ‘Insiders’ program we offer a community platform where housemates can meet, chat, find yoga buddies or recycle old furniture, report maintenance issues, take part in the events, grab local deals and other hundreds of perks and discounts, get handy local information and area guides, ask for advice, make friends and settle easier into a new home.
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