An Interview with LIFENEST: Disrupting the rental market with ‘home life experience’
If you were to move to one of the world’s biggest cities - London, Paris, New York - the common questions you would ask would be: Who do you rent with? Who can support you? What is the process?
Bdaily recently had the opportunity to chat with LIFENEST, a fast-growing brand aiming to offer “the world’s first global renting and home life experience brand” and make waves within the rental industry.
With more young professionals coming to London each year, LIFENEST founder and CEO Mike Seymour took an active interest in the capital and the potential opportunities it could offer.
Mike identified that a lot of rental agencies have been operating in the same way for years. He asked himself: where is this industry going, what does the future hold, and more importantly what could he do in that space? And so the journey of LIFENEST began!
LIFENEST was born through Mike’s vision, with co-founder and CFO Desh Padiachey by his side. Mike’s brother Josh joined the team last year, coming onboard as sales and marketing director.
As office experiences go, meeting with Josh at the top of London’s Gherkin had to be one of our most iconic and incredible coffee catch ups to date!
The opulence of the rooftop bar with panoramic views of the City mirrored the vibrancy of the brand, and the seemingly limitless landscape reflected the breadth of LIFENEST’s ambition.
Josh kindly took the time to talk to us about LIFENEST’s journey so far, as well as its vision for the future of the rental industry - for both landlord and tenant.
What excites you most about your industry, what will be the “next big thing“ in your industry, and how do you plan to handle it?
According to Josh, there are a lot of rental services already available through a range of apps, but asserts that LIFENEST has identified gaps - even in such a saturated market. Josh explained there are two big trends in their industry which are yet to be tapped into: “If you move to the city there’s a slim chance you are moving with friends so you then have to find your own place.
“Students and young professionals are automatically priced out of a new development resulting in a house share and letting agents are yet to focus on this trend. This is the first. “Home life experience is the second trend. Landlords or agents don’t offer anything additional once you get the keys, from that point on their work is done. This stems from the belief that a home is the four walls around you.”
With 130 units over zones one and two already, LIFENEST’s business model and vision is to have millions of shared houses where the tenant can craft their own homelife experience; from grocery replenishments, laundry, storage, cleaning and interior design services to apple homeware subscriptions, coffee barista experiences and owning their own contents through a monthly subscription service.
Josh continued: “LIFENEST is excited to tap into these trends and revolutionise the rental experience for both the landlord and tenant, matching properties to those driven professionals chasing their dreams, their ambitions and expectations.”
What is LIFENEST’s biggest achievement over the past 12 months?
When thinking about the past year, Josh was very clear about LIFENEST’s main highlight: “Growth is our main achievement. It’s so turbulent when you are growing fast and property is a very sensitive business to be in, lots of things can go wrong and lots of things can go right.
“To keep a stable flight path through that growth without any big hiccups whilst keeping everyone happy, managing a huge portfolio of tenants with a small team and no funding is to us, quite an achievement.
“For us to be profitable from day one and maintain the level of service we have and achieve that growth, that whole thing is the achievement.
“To go from that to a 20-person team in a year whilst maintaining the growth is tough.”
In an ever-evolving business environment, how do you drive change and empower your team to innovate?
“For us, we are a startup still. Everyone that we bring in, every team member, we want them to be very individual and responsible in their own right. You go into a new job and get given the handbook to follow: rinse, repeat and that’s your job.
Josh emphasised that the disruptive nature of LIFENEST extends beyond its expansion plans and into its working culture: “We don’t want our team to follow the handbook, we want them to write their own. We give a lot of freedom, a ton of room to innovate and with that comes a lot of responsibility too.
“We look at personal development quite strongly, this also enables our team to create these wonderful ideas for the company. We don’t micromanage our team. We look at what people would like in the workplace.
“Our brand is where we focus a lot of our attention, we are always crafting the story for our tenants and our landlords - every story has a problem, has a consequence, has a villain and a hero.”
Where do you see LIFENEST going in the future?
“International - the world’s best cities! Experiencing 200 per cent growth, it’s all about building this global rental brand.
“There are a cluster of cities around the world offering great quality of life but the cost of living is too high. That’s where we can come in, to stop young professionals being priced out.”
As part of its international expansion, LIFENEST is looking to expand to New York next year, with Paris being another goal: “Mike and I actually lived in Paris for five years, so Paris is a good one for us as well.”
Josh went on to discuss the barriers young families face when considering that big move to a city. Part of LIFENEST’s future vision is to deliver that option with ease and affordability.
“Once we have established the young professional market place, the next level is family homes. What do families need to have a good home life experience? It could be grocery delivery, it could be something to do with childcare.”
Showing no sign of slowing down, it seems as though the future is bright for LIFENEST as it continues to expand into the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.
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