We are happy to go into detail about the first team who was on board for our third Batch: rentseed
We asked about their backgrounds, what their current plans are for the next few months and what they expect from the program with us!
Who are you guys and what is rentseed? Maybe introduce yourselves first.
I’m the CTO of Rentseed, and yes my name is really Storm. As a web developer by trade, I’ve been a freelancer for most of my working life - about nine years - and I moved to Germany last year from South Africa. Before that, I was doing some travelling while working, a "digital nomad" if you will. I met Jon at Sprachschule in Munich, where we were both trying to learn German, admittedly not doing too well. That's when we started working on Rentseed.
How did you guys come up with the idea?
I’m Jon, the CEO of Rentseed. While I was in the UK, I was working in Corporate and Investment Banking in London. I was always interested in banking but then got a bit frustrated by the lack of digital processes in place and the number of ideas not being turned into reality. High finance is all well and good, but you don’t get very creative moving money from one place to another using systems first introduced in the 80s! I saw this also happening in the Real Estate industry, where there are still a lot of manual processes in place. So I thought - why not combine the two, finance and real estate (i.e. rental deposits), and digitise the existing process.
Can you shortly break down what rentseed is about?
Okay, so Rentseed is a deposit management platform for landlords, property managers and tenants, which will eventually be available across the whole of Europe. We are going to be starting with Germany as it’s the largest and most ripe market for disruption. After that, we are going to branch out to other EU countries. We're lucky in that there is nothing quite like Rentseed that currently exists, or which could be as scalable thanks to Open Banking. We want to make it as easy to use, accessible across markets, and to bring it to market as soon as possible.
Storm: Right, it’s a straightforward idea. We take deposits on behalf of landlords from their tenants, and then pay the tenants higher interest than they would typically receive. We also make the process more convenient for landlords and property managers. Moreover, to top it off, it’s free for everybody. The current system is outdated. It involves a lot of paperwork, administration and dealing with a bank. Thanks to Open Banking and modern web tech, we're able to simplify the process by bringing the two together in a way not currently available.
So what are your current goals? What are the next steps for your company?
Storm: The current goal is to release our client-side demo in August and start integrating with property management partners to improve their system when dealing with rental deposits.
Jon: That’s the short-term goal. Later on, we want to service the whole financial ecosystem that supports the rental and deposit process. So, instead of just handling deposits, we'll one day be able to collect the rent, automatically pay the landlord’s mortgage, and possibly integrate billing solutions - pretty much own the whole process. So, if you deal with anything property and finance related, you wouldn't have to move off of the Rentseed platform.
Storm: Exactly. Another goal would be to offer deposit lending to tenants who can’t afford or don’t want to pay their deposit up front. They would essentially pay us a fee, and we would cover the deposit on their behalf.
Jon: It would be an interest-only loan of sorts. So you don’t have to pay the whole thing in the first month, but instead, let’s say, you pay between €20 or €30 a month.
Storm: That'd be a secondary feature.
Jon: Oh, and in the future, we also want to offer rental guarantees as well.
And the last question: What do you expect from us as a PropTech Accelerator program?
Jon: Well, we’re both ‘internationally displaced’ at the moment so-
Storm: -German support *laughs* !
Jon: Pretty much! German and Real Estate industry support. I'm a Banker by trade and Storm is a Developer, so we need a team that can help us in the industry. I mean we may have a great solution, but we do need the industry know-how to work with.
Being part of blackprint, I now realise how unbelievably connected Rentseed is through the accelerator. Each time I have a meeting here, I'm impressed. It’s like there’s a new person that can introduce me to someone else, as each time I come out of a meeting, such as with Marc Stilke, my mind is blown!
Storm: The real estate partner connections are also impressive.
Jon: I’m somewhat disappointed when thinking about the programme ending at some point, and I hope that we retain our relations and support structure with blackprint afterwards.