How we are planning to scale our coliving startup

By Youri Published 17/03/2017

If you have read my latest blog, you probably know that I started a co-living startup with 3 associates 7 months ago.

In short, we provide flexible, fully furnished accommodations for young professionals through a network of sustainable & community-driven shared homes.

Our business model is centered around two main activities:

On one hand, we work with private investors to acquire & develop new buildings in Brussels & abroad.

On the other hand, we act as property manager as we find & manage new houses for either our investment company or private landlords that would like to join our network of shared homes.

By early next year, we will have 65 rooms under management through 6 houses in Brussels. We bought 2 new homes and rented 1. We currently have a 80+ waiting list for our rooms. Since starting Cohabs, we had over 600 applicants.

So how are we exactly planning to scale from 65 rooms to 350 rooms in 2 years ?

1. Improve customer experience

There is really no secret here : if you want to grow your startup, make sure your early customers love your product.

Since day 1, we drafted our customer journey map and identified which process had to be quickly improved in order to live up to the expection of our members. Each month, we’re going over the whole journey in order to adjust it and try to come up with new ideas to make sure we’re creating more values for our members.

One of the recent focus has been the release of our mobile application. Starting October, each member will be able to enjoy a dedicated app to declare an incident, chat with a fellow member, create new events or add a wish for their house.

Whether it’s through the community aspect or the daily living experience, we’re working hard to improve every part of our member journey during their stay at Cohabs.

2. Increase brand awareness

Again, no secrets here. We have to prioritize our marketing channels due to the funding of Cohabs Services. So what will be our focus to increase brand awareness ?

  • SEO : with over 60 organic searches per day, there are a lot of space for improvement. We used Google Trends to analyze & identify relevant keywords in order to optimize our online visibility in every way possible (search & social).
  • Facebook/Twitter ads : most of our traffic comes from social networks. It’s key for us to have a strong branding on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. We used a Belgian tool (Soprism) to improve the profiling of our users and increase the relevancy of our ads. On a daily basis, we’re strong user of Buffer, Crowdfire & Iconosquare.
  • Blogging : our latest blog reached 1400 reads in 4 weeks, that helped. We’ll try to write a blog post every 2/3 months.
  • Press release : we peaked at 850 unique visitors after a major Belgian newspapper (De Tijd) covered our launch.

3. Find key partners to support our growth

Real estate is a tricky business.

It’s capital intensive, financialy complex and it’s all about networking.

Since starting Cohabs, we’ve looked for mentors to help us understand this new working environement. In the last two months, we’ve had over 60 meetings just to introduce ourself. We’ve met investors, competitors, advisors, real estate journalists, private landlords and potential partners.

We have now added two new independant members to our board of directors that will help us in key strategic decision on a more regularly basis. In addition, we’ve surrounded ourselves with subject matter experts to advises us on specific issues.

We also selected our first 6 investors that seemed the more fit to help us develop Cohabs.

This has been such a great run so far and we’ve been lucky enough to meet amazing people along the way.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

About the author CEO of Cohabs