Badi’s Carlos Pierre highlights the need for “sustainable urban housing”

Spain: ShortTermRentalz speaks to Carlos Pierre, founder and CEO of room rental platform Badi, about the company’s growth strategy despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, his decision to assist and house health professionals on the front line in Barcelona, and what he understands by the term ‘urban living’ and how it applies to Badi.
  • Please introduce yourself, Badi and the services you provide within the rental industry.

“I’m Carlos, the Founder and CEO of Badi, a room rental platform that redefines urban housing in cities including London, Barcelona, Madrid and Berlin. Our mission is to provide flat seekers and listers with a seamless and secure room rental experience through AI. We connect like-minded users and give them the tools to list or rent a room in a safe, smart and straightforward way.

  • What was your motivation for launching Badi in the first place? What gap are you filling in the market?

“I came up with the idea when I was looking for a place to rent in Barcelona as the rooms I found online at the time weren’t suitable or affordable. The classified ads didn’t show the lister’s profile or include information on who else was living in the flat-share. That’s when I had the idea: create a platform which offers affordable, good quality room rental supply and matches this with verified tenants. I knew that this was a problem worldwide, so I wanted to create a solution.

“Since we launched, we’ve had an incredibly positive response across Barcelona, Madrid, London and Berlin. We’ve achieved 450 per cent year-on-year growth in listings over the last four years. In particular, London is our fastest growing market, where we’ve logged more than 100k listings.

“Unlike other room rental platforms, Badi isn’t just a database of available rooms. Our platform uses AI to recommend flatmates that you’d be compatible with. After all, your flat is your home and who you share your space with is just as important as where you’re living.”

“Badi wanted to contribute and help during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many healthcare professionals have moved to Barcelona temporarily to work and provide critical support during this time.

“As a company, our goal is to provide the best rental experience for our users. We wanted to make the move to Barcelona easier for healthcare professionals so we set aside 400 rooms across four buildings in Barcelona, as well as various flats in the city to provide much-needed, temporary accommodation. We’re incredibly grateful to healthcare professionals who are working tirelessly during this crisis to keep cities safe and are happy to have helped some of them to find a place to stay.”

  • Last year, you announced a $30m Series B funding round and at the turn of this year, you surpassed the milestone of 300,000 room rental listings – how are you now looking to continue your rapid growth worldwide and how is the virus affecting this strategy?

“Our focus has and will always be to improve the rental experience for our users. Bookings have slowed as people are following government guidelines and are staying at home. However, we are focusing our energy and resources to make improvements to our booking platform. I’m very proud of the incredible work we’ve done over the last month.

“Our new head of UX Research, Nadine Piecha, has worked with her team to deploy a survey to our users to better understand their needs and challenges, as well as how the pandemic has impacted their plans to move.

“As a result, we’ve made several changes to our booking policies. For example, we’ve updated our cancellation policy to offer increased flexibility during these uncertain times. Users can postpone their move-in dates or reserve a room in future.

“Over the next couple of months, we will roll out new features and offerings such as a ‘virtual’ visit system, allowing our users to tour a flat from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”

  • What do you understand by the term “urban living” and what it encompasses? How do you think this concept will develop over the coming years?

“The number of people living in cities continues to rise across the globe. In fact, more than half [54 per cent] of the world’s 7.2 billion population live in cities. By 2050, this number is expected to increase to 66 per cent of a projected global population of 9.6 billion, according to figures from the United Nations.

“This highlights the need for sustainable urban housing. For some cities, this could be turning under-utilised or disused spaces into homes for city dwellers. In London, there’s 22,000 empty homes that could be used to create living spaces for renters.

“As more people continue to move into cities, urban living will continue to evolve. For example, flat-sharing has been and remains a key urban living trend, as it allows spaces to be utilised more effectively. Flat-shares have a common living room and kitchen, while occupants have their own bedrooms and personal spaces.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve also seen the rise of dedicated co-living spaces. While these new-build sites offer a single room with shared living and kitchen spaces, they’re not sustainable models of urban living. Every city already has existing spaces that can be adapted for flat sharing, providing a long-term solution for urban living needs.”
  • How do you expect the coronavirus and the subsequent effects on the economy to have an impact on the global rental landscape? In terms of rent prices, demand for rental properties and people’s desire to use technology to search out rentals?
“As you could imagine, people aren’t moving at the same rate now as they were before the global pandemic. The current unprecedented crisis that we’re facing has had a far-reaching impact across all sectors. Demand for rental properties will continue to decrease short-term, as people are isolating at home. We expect rental prices to follow this trend. Once lockdown and self-quarantine measures are lifted or even loosened, it’s likely that the rental market will slowly begin to resume normal levels of activity.

“We’ve found that shorter-term holiday lets such as Airbnb have been massively impacted, as tourism has dropped exponentially due to Covid-19. Longer-term room rentals would not be as impacted as severely, as people will always need a place to live.

“The crisis has highlighted the important role that technology plays throughout the entire room rental process. For companies that haven’t digitised their offerings – it’s critical to make this transition online imminently to provide much-needed services to customers.

“At Badi, we’re looking to expand our virtual flat viewings, allowing seekers to view properties remotely. On Badi, a seeker can discuss with prospective flatmates before agreeing to a move-in date, to see if they’d get along well.

“That being said, there are always ways to enhance the room rental experience online. At Badi, this is what drives us, and we’re committed to continually improving our platform to make city living accessible and sustainable across the globe.”

For more information, visit the Badi website here.