A startup housing app which aims to provide a safe haven for international students recently won the North West regional final for The F Factor.
The F Factor is a competition for tech entrepreneurs, first launched five years ago by Founders of the Future, part of the Founders Forum Network set up by Lastminute.com’s Brent Hoberman.
Housemates.io, established in Liverpool in November last year by Lydia Jones and Marius Vinickis, won in the 19-25-year-old category at the ‘North West Finals’ held in Manchester, with a judging panel including Mo Aldalou from Technation.io and Naomi Timperley from Tech North Advocates.
The startup now takes its place in the national final, held in London next month (June 13 2019), where it will be pitching to Founders Forum for the chance to win a £10,000 prize.
The app allows users to search, find and book their next student accommodation while also discovering what the neighbourhood has to offer.
Housemates calls itself ‘a mobile-centric marketplace for student accommodation available across the UK’, with its listings grown through partnerships with private accommodation providers, landlords and letting agencies.
It believes that the ‘student experience starts with finding the perfect accommodation in the right neighbourhood and that this should be accessible to all students for free’.
Jones, from Liverpool, and Vinickis, who originally hails from Lithuania, came up with the idea for their app after seeing how ‘international students were being exploited by greedy agents and unscrupulous landlords’. They wanted to provide a solution to this problem by partnering students with vetted homes.
They took home a £1,000 prize after winning the regional final and now turn their attentions to the national final in less than two weeks’ time.
“At the end (of the regional final) we were being pulled aside by international students saying they had paid a fortune to get here,” 20 year old Jones said, adding that it was great to meet people who had experienced the problems Housemates is trying to solve.
Earlier this month Jones and Vinickis were featured in The Times (paywall), where they described their venture in greater detail.
This story from the Evening Standard also explains more about The F Factor and its previous winners, which has included Kiki Oniwinde for her business BYP Network, a network for young black professionals, and Hausbots, a startup focused on construction robots created by Jack Cornes and Harry Smith.
The free Housemates app can be downloaded via the App Store. It’s part of a rising trend for student property apps, with PIT recently reporting on Polygon – an app which aims to match compatible student housemates.