Current affairs

“The worst phase for an entrepreneur is the beginning, when you leave your comfort zone”

Estefanía Delgado and Rubén Cuesta, a former student of EAE Business School, present FlatFit App, the mobile application for finding an apartment/tenant that is set to launch in Barcelona and Madrid in the middle of January.

Wednesday, 29 de November, 2017

“It is not a matter of where you live, but who you share it with” is the philosophy of the mobile application FlatFit. Thanks to a compatibility algorithm, this application, created by Estefanía Delgado and Rubén Cuesta, helps users find either the ideal apartment or the ideal tenant.

As they explain in this interview, they are planning to launch this app in mid-January and, although they have identified different target markets, at the beginning, they will focus on national and international undergraduates and Master students. Moreover, in the initial stages, they will provide the service in the cities of Barcelona and Madrid, but they expect to grow quickly.

FlatFit originated from Estefanía’s experience on an exchange program in Shanghai. She did not know anybody there or the language, “but, above all, I felt really anxious about whom I was going to live with”. She detected a need in the market and she joined forces with Rubén to launch this app. For his part, Rubén is a former student del Master in Marketing and Commercial Management at EAE Business School. With this in mind, knowing how many entrepreneurs can be found in the School’s classroom, they offer us a set of tips based on their own entrepreneurial experience.

Let’s talk first about FlatFit App, what is it, how does it work and who is your target market?

FlatFit is a free mobile app that tells you the compatibility rating of your future flatmates and helps you find your ideal apartment. In addition, we help owners find the ideal tenants based on their preferences. Our philosophy is simple: “It is not a matter of where you live, but who you share it with”.

On our platform, users can find flatmates, available rooms or an entire apartment. Meanwhile, people with an apartment or room available can post it on FlatFit. They just have to let us know their preferences by completing a survey and then our internal algorithm gives them the compatibility rating with respect to the other users. Users can then start talking with the best matches and agree to live together!

We have identified six kinds of users but, first of all, we want to focus on national and international undergraduates and Master students. The launch is set for mid-January, but we have a closed beta version up and running in December.

Anybody coming to Spain to study who wants to find out the latest about our app should sign up on our website and we will let them know when it is released.

From a more ‘sentimental’ perspective, how did FlatFit originate?

The idea behind FlatFit originated when Estefanía went on an exchange program to Shanghai. She went on her own and did not know anybody in the destination city. She spoke no Mandarin and did not know where she was going to live. However, above all, it was not knowing whom she would be living with that caused her the greatest anxiety. When she arrived in Shanghai, she got desperate and ended up living with a Chinese family. It was mot the experience that she was looking for and that was when she realised that there was an opportunity in the market.

What questions enable the person looking for an apartment find their perfect home?

Before we get to the algorithm, there is a series of filters, such as the destination city, the age of the flatmate and their occupation, among other aspects. After these filters, we come to the algorithm, which is optional but we encourage users to fill it out to get better results. Our questions are based on market research that we have conducted on more than 500 people. We asked which aspects were most important to them when living with other people. Based on this, the questions we ask are divided into four categories: cleaning, personality, hobbies and rules.

On the flipside of the coin, how does a person with an apartment to share know that somebody is their ideal flatmate?

Users with a room available can post it on our platform. The process is the same as for looking for a flatmate. Once you post the room, the user has to tell us their preference for a flatmate and then answer the algorithm questions. When their post is ready, it will only be shown to compatible users, thereby optimizing their search.  Moreover, the user who has posted a room can contact their favourite users directly.

The logic behind it is that somebody who has a room available does not want a complete stranger to move in to their apartment. So, before showing them the room, they can check out the compatibility rating and speak to the user to get to know them a bit better.

Lastly, if the user has an entire apartment to let, they can also post it on FlatFit. The most annoying aspect of finding tenants is how much time you waste. In this case, users tell us their preferences with respect to tenants and only candidates that meet their requirements can contact them. This helps them to optimize their search. In addition, the owner can contact their ideal tenants directly rather than waiting for them to get in touch.

What cities are you planning to launch in initially?

FlatFit has a global scope but we are starting local. The app will be launched in mid-January and we are starting in the cities of Barcelona and Madrid. Our aim is just to validate the concept before moving quickly on to other markets.  

With respect to entrepreneurship, have you carried out a project like this before?

In 2015, Estefanía co-founded SBS The Art of Design, an Ecuadorian company that represents Spanish and Italian brands in the construction finishing sector in the country. SBS provides building finishes at cost price with a door-to-door service. They have dispatched containers for the companies Gayafores and Vidrepur.

After Estefanía’s experience in that case and now with FlatFit, what would you say are the worst phases for entrepreneurs?

The worst phase is the beginning. Leaving your comfort zone, setting up an entrepreneurial venture in a foreign country where nobody knows you, you have no contacts and, worst of all, people do not believe in your idea.

Several students at EAE Business School are sure that they would like to start an entrepreneurial venture at some point in the lives, just as you have done. What advice would you give them? What are the most common mistakes that they should try to avoid?

We would give the following tips and mistakes to avoid:

  1. Find a team that believes in your idea but, first and foremost, that have different profiles that complement each other.  
  2. If you want to start a venture in the technology area, it is crucial that you have somebody on the team who knows about the specific field, or at least an advisor. It is really easy to be sold something that is not what you think it is, and they convince you because of your lack of knowledge.
  3. It is important to put everything in writing, particularly if there is a supplier involved.
  4. When incorporating the company, take the non-monetary contribution into consideration.
  5. If you give away a percentage of your company, make it clear what you expect from the other party.
  6. Find mentors. They are beneficial in all respects.
  7. If you are foreign and want to stay in Spain, apply for the entrepreneur visa.

Rubén, in your case, you are also a former student of the Master in Marketing and Commercial Management. Why did you choose that program?

When I decided to come to Spain to study, I started looking at various options. Once I had chosen the city Barcelona as my preferred destination, former students of the School who I worked with at the time in Ecuador recommended the School to me, so I asked for information.

I decided to study at the School primarily because the content of the Master really ticked the boxes of what I was looking for and in terms of the areas I wanted to improve in. Moreover, the School’s national and international reputation and the fact that it ranks very highly in all the different league tables is testament to the quality of its programs. Another factor that I really liked was the number of international students that the School attracts. This aspect is really rewarding as it gives you the opportunity to share experiences with people who have worked in different markets and realities.

What aspects of the Master and the School would you highlight?

The School has a great team of lecturers with a wealth of professional experience and not just a teaching background, which makes the classes really interactive, using real cases. The international networking opportunities at the School are fantastic. Qualifications from EAE, just like those from UPC, are an accreditation of quality and add real weight to your CV.

I would recommend the School 100% because, as I mentioned earlier, the quality of its programs is very high, as the accolades and international rankings testify. My experience with the lecturers, classes and classmates was extremely positive, enhancing my knowledge and giving me a more global vision, both professionally and personally.

 

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