Last year I was fortunate enough to be placed as runner up in the 2018 Royal Holloway University Entrepreneurship award. With the award came £500 worth of seed money and mentoring from an industry professional, Jamila Yu; in order to start my business venture, Cohabit.
My initial idea was a website that could connect students with local families who might have spare rooms. This agreement would benefit the hosting families in the form of an income from a previously unused asset (a spare bedroom) and benefit the students by offering a cheaper alternative to the high rent prices in our local area.
Straight after the competition I set to work brainstorming a cohesive business plan complete with estimated costings. Jarmila was particularly helpful in detailing some of the steps to setting up a company that I had previously not thought about – such as registering with Company’s House. At this point I also completed a lot of research into the advantages and disadvantages that come with setting up an app or using a web-based approach for the service. Having no technical experience this was a particularly steep learning curve especially when evaluating developers. Eventually I decided to go with an app as opposed to a web site as it meant that user could have a more personal experience and I personally knew more about app design.
At this point it was time to start looking at the law surrounding subletting properties. Upon my initial research I found out that there were significant tax breaks for families who rented out their spare rooms. This provided a further incentive to market to potential renters. Having conducted this initial research, I consulted with a local company who specialise in letting property. This proved invaluable advice as I would have to provide a legal term of service for the app in order to minimize risk.
At this point I have conducted all of the background research and completed a legal term of service. My key weakness throughout this development procedure has been coding and development experience. Using some of my seed funding I have bought a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud and undertook several master classes so that I have a more learned grasp of the design and running of an app. This is proving to be invaluable to both this project and my professional career development. Hopefully in the next few months the app will go live, and we can start Cohabiting!
This blog post was written by Emily Wright.