Urban Rent and Halal Gems are among the hottest UK startups featured by Startups.co.uk—a startup-friendly website for young entrepreneurs to discover fresh ideas and win exposure through a host of awards such as Startups 100
Generation Rent encapsulates the complex issues an average young UK family encounters when looking for a home. By 2020, first time buyers in the UK will need to earn an average of £64,000 and Londoners will need to earn £106,000, to entitle to home ownership, which can put extreme pressure on a family’s income and expenditure. Millennials (or Generation Y) are increasingly renting their real estate. According to Daily Mail, urban renters in London are estimated to spend £2.6mn on rent in their lifetime. The capital city is predicted to become a land of renters by 2025, observed a 2016 PwC report. This means, only 40% of people will be homeowners, while the remaining 60% will be renting homes. This raises a vexing question: Is the generational shift attributed to rise in housing cost or changing lifestyles?
The truth is, millenials want to buy, but they can’t afford it.
While the rising housing costs raise plenty of problems, a number of new tech-driven startups are stepping in to support Generation Rent, and help millennials with various parts of their lifestyle. For example, London-based home insurtech startup Urban Jungle was founded in 2016, and is focused on offering affordable insurance products to young people—an area easily forgotten in the rented sector. Co-founder and CEO Jimmy Williams, said, “Millenials are the first generation to be poorer in real terms than their parents, and that, along with rising property prices means many are renting for longer. From what we can see, the services renters are being offered really don’t measure up.”
There has been lots of recent controversy about the fees being charged by real estate agents to renters whenever they have to move homes. A typical two-adult household pays over £400 whenever they move, or renew their lease. Costs like these are driving living situations to change rapidly—such as sharing homes with a few friends is increasingly common.
For this reason, Urban Jungle is introducing a number of specialist renters products to the market. For example: a product which covers renters who live in shared homes with a few friends, and a product to protect against their liability to the landlord. They are also emphasize on how easy their products are to buy. “We already have a smartphone optimised purchase process, which should be a big improvement on the unwieldy purchase experience of some of the big insurance providers,” Williams said.
Perhaps because of rising rental costs, cover is often forgotten with only 40% of private tenants having some form of insurance, according to Mintel. And they have no backup if the worst happens. Urban Jungle plans to make better designed cover, at a much cheaper price for customers, and increase their take up significantly.
Williams hopes that customers will not only come to Urban Jungle for cheap cover, but also buy into their overall approach. He concluded: “Our early customers really buy into our mission to help young people, and look forward to seeing how the product evolves over the coming months and years.”
Entrepreneurs in the UK see new potential in the next sector—the Muslim lifestyle market that largely overlaps the food and retail industry. The Muslim habitat has had a significant influence on the West for generations now. The modern Muslim thinkers look for opportunities to connect between modern ways of life and century-old practices. For example: Halal in Islamic context refers to wholesome. The concept is grasped and young entrepreneurs want to create contemporary products and services that is sourced ethically to serve the community.
In London, the food industry is quickly expanding—and targets customers of all cultural backgrounds. The startup Halal Gems is a restaurant finder website and app that allows Halal-conscious diners and others to skim through a variety of high-end multi-cuisine and Halal restaurants in the city.
“When I started five years ago, there was hardly anybody targeting this audience. But then I think what happened was a bit of culture shift. People started to become vocal about what they wanted,” founder and CEO Zohra Khaku said. “Then really what happened was the Muslim or Halal-conscious consumers started paying attention to the services directed towards them. That sort of started to pop up in the UK. We have a few exciting things coming up in the sector for sure.”
Halal Gems brought the biggest street food festival in London in 2017. Its website is user-friendly and new-fashioned in its content and approach—the Foodie Guide offers an explorative insight into restaurants in different cities. But the website does not hold strong views. “We don’t put a religious doctrine to it. We don’t define what Halal means,” Zohra said.
Halal-conscious consumers are very selective and look for transparency in all their products. “We found in our research that halal-conscious consumers are very loyal. So if you tick them off they are not coming back. If they like you, if they think your brand is for them—they will be a part of it and be proud of it. If a brand caters towards the halal-conscious community but is ashamed of them, or misaligned in terms of ethics, halal-conscious consumers walk away. So it’s a very strong sentiment in that sense,” Zohra told us.
And it is fair to say that the company brings value with transparency into the business: where the Muslim consumers understand the restaurants they want to dine at—and how to find them. So far, the website has had great visibility: their mailing list includes 25,000 customers and received 2mn views last year. This year is going to be exciting with its second round of Street Eats festival. There will also be a new launch on City Guides: to help travellers discover local eats and great restaurants around the world.