Courier-magazine-issue-15-Workshop-Vrumi

Tech Workshop

Vrumi lets people hire out their homes from 9 to 5

‘Airbnb for office space’ is the easiest way to describe Vrumi,
a daytime-only property rental platform. Unexpectedly, the startup has found itself a hit with corporate middle managers.

15 Feb 2017

Riffing on the success of Airbnb, Vrumi has added its own twist to the model: renting homes left empty while owners are at work.

By adapting a now-well-known concept – short-term lets – Vrumi has been able to rely on customers understanding its offering without much explaining. Less than a month after launching in January 2015, more than 40 hosts had joined the platform.

Plenty more people leave their home empty during working hours than overnight, so supply is plentiful, but finding customers that want to use those spaces has been trickier. Most companies already have an office, and many freelancers are happy using coffee shops, co-working spaces or sub-letting a desk.

Despite this, Vrumi claims ‘hundreds’ of booking requests are made each month. After initially targeting freelancers and small businesses, Vrumi has found larger corporates are the ones seeking out the platform for off-site team bonding, brainstorming sessions and meetings with clients.

Vrumi has apparently found its target customer in the form of middle managers from companies such as Amazon, Sky, Whole Foods and the BBC, keen to leave their corporate head offices for a day and take a house in a swish neighbourhood. ‘[Our spaces add] that odd extra dimension that breaks down barriers, and makes the meeting more democratic, more creative,’ says Roddy Campbell, Vrumi’s co-founder.

There is still the occasional unexpected request: a drama student wanting to practise her lines; a composer performing arrangements; and an adult film director (the latter was asked to look elsewhere).

Insight

Many companies have found their true market isn’t what they expected it to be. The trick is to keep a close eye on, and embrace, how people are using the service.

This story is taken from Courier Feb/Mar 2017.