Proptech (property technology) startup RentalStep, who are based at our Incubator, was founded in 2016 with the aim of making the renting process better for both tenants and landlords. As a landlord himself, founder and CEO Mike Georgeson was only too aware of the challenges faced by the sector, with ever increasing agency fees threatening his ability to find, and keep, reliable tenants. Combine that with the increasing pressures faced by private tenants, he felt something needed to be done to fix what he describes as a ‘broken system’.
Mike’s solution to this is RentalStep, an online platform uniting tenants and landlords during the rental process by providing a range of required services, but at a much lower cost than using traditional agency services.
Given the prevalence of private rentals, one of the first markets for RentalStep was student tenants. With this in mind, when he heard about the funded internship programme managed by the University of Liverpool he realised this was a great opportunity to gain not only a better understanding of the student sector but also bring someone into the team with direct experience of the problem.
Undergraduate Geography and French student Francesca was recruited in June 2017. She took on responsibility for developing the key marketing messages for students, as well as developing strategies to speed up user acquisition.
Signing up to RentalStep gives students the chance to build their Experian credit history by tracking their rental payments, but Francesca helped Mike realise that this wasn’t necessarily something they really cared about. As a result, she has built a Facebook campaign focused on educating the market on financial literacy and developed an on-campus ambassador programme to build awareness in universities across the country.
Bringing Francesca into our team has given us far better insight into one of our main customer groups, and has made a huge impact on how we position RentalStep in that market as our proposition develops. She’s been able to suggest strategies we hadn’t previously considered.
Taking on full-time staff isn’t always an option for new businesses given the financial and time commitment involved, but Mike has seen first-hand the role the internship programme can play and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other SMEs, whatever their stage of development.
We’ve invested heavily into developing the platform over the past 12 months so being able to access a funded intern has been a huge bonus to the business at this critical stage. The University helped us find a candidate with the right skills and experience, but also someone who believed in the ethos and aims of the company.
Francesca has returned to her studies to complete her final year but will continue to help with marketing to students. As for RentalStep, their rental revolution continues to gain traction.
Building our team remains a priority, and thanks to our first experience of employing an intern, we’ll definitely be looking to bring younger talent into the business as we grow.
To read about Francesca‘s experience of taking part in our paid SME internship programme, visit Santander Talent.