Startup for 10: Bunk
Bunk is a Bristol-based PropTech company founded in 2016. Since then, it has grown its team to 12 people and is working hard to fulfil its mission to revolutionise renting.
Answering 10 questions about Bunk is Tom Woollard, Co-founder and CEO.
1. In your own words – what do you do?
Bunk is transforming the rental market. The days of high fees, too many middlemen and no trust are over. After our own frustrations, we are on a mission to empower landlords and tenants to make renting work for everyone. It seems crazy that you still pay so much for such a poor service when a property is rented out. Bunk directly connects pre-verified landlords and tenants, providing them with all the tools needed to rent – all in one place.
Landlords have all the tools necessary to let and manage their properties and help them remain compliant with ever-changing legislation. From advertising to millions of tenants within minutes to managing viewing requests and offers, reference checking tenants, signing contracts and sorting deposit – all under one roof. We even help after the tenant has moved in with maintenance, in-app messaging and rent payments all managed through Bunk.
Everything for tenants is free. We provide them with an app that allows them to secure their next home. With Bunk, you can book viewings, talk with the landlord, make offers, get referenced, sort deposit and pay rent all in the app. We’ve even partnered with Experian to boost a tenant’s credit history and are just about to release a deposit-free renting option!
Our mission is to empower the people who matter – landlords and tenants – and make renting work for everyone.
2. What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?
Working in a startup is unbelievably exciting. There’s always so much going on. But I’d say the most exciting thing is seeing a huge market change in front of our eyes. Considering how crucial putting a roof over your head is and how big the rental market is becoming, it’s arguably the sector least impacted by technology – and people are ready for an alternative.
Two years ago we were getting asked at conferences why (as a landlord) they would use technology, now they are asking how. PropTech companies – including us – have a lot of work to do to capture market share from traditional agents. That challenge excites me.
3. What are you most proud of so far?
100% our team. We wouldn’t be anywhere without the team we’ve built. Everyone has such a positive mentality and is extremely hard-working. The tech team have delivered a mammoth app for both web and iOS, working some tough hours at times and delivering at a fast pace. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.
We were also nominated (and won) a couple of awards around Bristol before we officially launched our product – that’s a testament to the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes. We just missed out on a SPARKies award but we’ll be coming for one next year!
4. What have you found most difficult about being a startup?
This is an interesting one, but I would say talent. Personally, probably finding the right people. Hiring always takes more time and costs more than expected but is so crucial to get right. At this stage, you need a team of superstars who are up for any and all challenges that are thrown at them. Timing is also crucial – when to hire, when to raise, when to grow, when to release – it is all so critical to get right.
5. What would you do differently if you started now?
Well in hindsight I would love to have taken our initial investment, put it all into Bitcoin (Aug ’17) then withdrawn it (Dec ’17) and quadrupled it in a few months.
To be honest, working in a startup you’re always learning from mistakes and growing because things change at such a fast pace. I agree you should sit back and reflect upon the decisions you’ve made, but you should never have regrets. Personally, I wouldn’t do anything differently – we’re focused on building the future and the cards we are dealt change every day so being agile and prepared to play any hand is key!
6. Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months?
Our team has doubled in the past year and I can see it doubling again! We’re constantly focused on how we’re going to improve the platform. Our goal this year is to continue improving the user experience on the platform and grow our customer base. We launched in June and now are dealing with properties nationwide so we’re off with a running start!
7. What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most?
We have received a lot of help from the Bristol community over the past few years. For starters, Launch Space enabled us to not pay anything for office space for our first 2 years and provided some great support! Anyone that’s graduated in the past 3 years and based in the South West should definitely apply. UWE’s grant’s team were fantastic at helping us secure a couple of great grants as we scaled.
Also other founders – I have been lucky to meet with and learn from hundreds of founders in the past few years and I couldn’t praise it more. They all have a different, but relatable story and most have been through the same scenarios in the past – learning from others that have been there and done it has been key.
8. What’s the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster?
The sense of community, the willingness to share information and help where possible creates a buzz unique to Bristol. A lot of tech communities are closed-off and against collaboration, whereas Bristol is such an inviting community. We are delighted to be working with a few Bristol companies on various projects. There are just so many great startups around and the networking is brilliant, everyone is always finding ways to work together and do some amazing things.
9. Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year?
UpUGo’s team also has some incredible talent and, as far as agencies go, they go above and beyond and are a joy to work with. I’d like to give a special mention to The Handwriting Company as well, their technology has real potential.
10. Where can we find out more about you?
Thanks to Tom for taking the time to talk to us about Bunk and its journey so far.
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