Singapore-Tourism

Getting to Know the New Rental & Property Business Model to Ignite Startup Dreams – Part 2

The Start-Up Entrepreneur Series in collaboration with Entrepreneurs.my and This Week In Asia, aims to inspire a new breed of Generation-Y entrepreneurs, showcasing success stories of entrepreneurs in the region who have succeeded despite their young age. We take a look at, Boxyroom, a startup based in Singapore who is ‘Matchmaking Tenants with Overseas Property Rentals.’ Tell us more about Your Company – What have you built? What is your product or service to your customers? What is your track-record so far?

Boxyroom is the matchmaker for overseas property rentals. It is a rental property marketplace where tenants and landlords communicate and transacts with one another, peer-to-peer. We help landlords and tenants to kick-start the rental process, just like a dating agency. Once the match is made, that is a landlord has accepted a suitable tenant who subsequently pays a one-month deposit, the parties are free to develop the ‘relationship’ further.

The key feature of Boxyroom is that tenants can reserve their rental property safely by paying a deposit through Boxyroom, and not directly to the landlord. This mitigates risk of fake landlord running away with the deposit.

Boxyroom was started to for 2 reasons:

  • To bridge the gap between landlords and tenants who are located in different countries or counties and wish to transact directly
  • To provide tenants a safe and secure way to reserve overseas rental space so that they can move in as soon as they arrive at the destination.

Boxyroom has gone live for less than a month and we have seen encouraging results with listings from the UK, USA, Australia and Singapore.

This is how it works for a landlord

  • List property for free in a few easy step
  • Receive rental applications
  • Screen potential tenants using the built-in pre-tenancy application forms
  • After selecting a suitable tenant, tenant can secure his property by transferring a deposit equivalent to one month rent to Boxyroom. We will safeguard the deposit until the tenant moves into the property
  • The tenant will hand landlord a payment code to withdraw 90% of the deposit to landlord’s Paypal account

This is how it works for a tenant

  • Enter the city or country where tenant plans to rent
  • Fill up and send pre-tenancy application form to landlord
  • Once the landlord has selected a suitable tenant, tenant can secure the property by transferring a deposit equivalent to one month rent to Boxyroom within 48 hours
  • Once tenant arrives at the rental property and is happy, tenants hand the payment code to the landlord

    Why did you decide to go into this business? Is it because it is a lucrative market? Is it a Blue Ocean which your talents and expertise through your business can provide?

The idea was conceptualised when a close friend of mine was cheated of 1200 Euros when he tried to rent an apartment in Paris, while preparing to study there. He responded to a listing on Craigslist and was subsequently stung by this scam. The fake landlord took the money and fled. I thought there must be a better way of renting a place overseas safely through the Internet, peer-to-peer, without going through an real estate agency. I put my idea into work immediately and finally have a live product working in October 2012.

Please share with us, when you established your organization during its early days – How did you fund it? Any tips on raising the funds? Any tips on convincing investors?

I have self-funded the project so far with my own savings. I’m currently seeking funding from investors.

Our key markets are outside of Singapore due to the nature of Boxyroom’s business model. We are focusing on cities and countries where there is high concentration of foreign students and expatriates, such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

As mentioned above, Boxyroom’s market is global, although we are focusing in several key markets. The size of market is promising as Boxyroom’s total available market is not limited geographically. For example, someone from Singapore can rent in London, someone in Melbourne can rent in Beijing, the number of possible permutations is extremely large.

According to OECD, there were an estimated 3.7 million students International students in the world, not including those who travel domestically to another city. In total, 200 million people live abroad and percentage of these people who rent a property is around 60-70%.

Target Customer

  • Tenants: Internet-savvy individuals between the age 18 and 45, travelling to another city or country for studies or work, and are comfortable with transacting online
  • Landlords: Internet-savvy property owners between the age 25 and 55 who wish to rent out the spare capacity in their properties and are open to managing the rental process by themselves.

We plan to use external funding for the following:

  • Market aggressively in key markets to grow supply of property listings and to grow number of tenant users
  • Hire best UX designers to improve user experience and lower learning curve for new users
  • Set up a customer service team to provide top-notch service 24/7 in multiple languages

    Where do you see your business growing into, for the next 5 to 10 years?

I can see Boxyroom as the top website for tenants and landlords to get in touch and initiate property rentals internationally. On the supply side, most landlords around the world will know about Boxyroom and list their properties there.

We will work with a large number of universities, colleges and corporations around the world to promote Boxyroom to their students and employees who are travelling overseas and in need for a long-term rental space. In 5 years’ time Boxyroom will be a $200 million a year business.

What is your vision for the industry that you are in? Do you see a trend coming up that your business can capitalize?

I’m optimistic about the international property rental market. People are increasingly becoming more mobile in terms of travelling overseas for work and education. Finding a suitable place for rent overseas will remain a challenge for most people and Boxyroom will make the process easy and safe.

To be Continued to Part 3 on the 17th of January 2013

### Special thanks to This Week in Asia as our supporting partner in bringing to us, the Start-Up Entrepreneur Interview Series ###

About The Start-Up Entrepreneur:

The Entrepreneur’ is a firm believer of keeping things simple and lives by the mantra that “life is simple until we complicate it”. Our lives have become so complicated that with time, we have gotten used to it. If we can eliminate unnecessary complexity and stress of our daily lives, the world will be a happier and healthier place to live in. He also believes in doing one thing exceptionally well, rather than doing many things reasonable well.

About The Start-Up:

Boxyroom is the matchmaker for overseas property rentals. It is a rental property marketplace where tenants and landlords communicate and transacts with one another, peer-to-peer. We help landlords and tenants to kick-start the rental process, just like a dating agency. Once the match is made, that is a landlord has accepted a suitable tenant who subsequently pays a one-month deposit, the parties are free to develop the ‘relationship’ further. The key feature of Boxyroom is that tenants can reserve their rental property safely by paying a deposit through Boxyroom, and not directly to the landlord. This mitigates risk of fake landlord running away with the deposit.