A VENTURE PROGRAMME SUCCESS STORY
Renting a flat or looking for tenants? Worig helps you find the best ones!
This success story was part of the EIT Digital Venture Programme, supporting entrepreneurial teams with deep tech business ideas to finalise their MVP and start their venture. Click here for more information and to apply for the 2020 edition.
Trust is key to successful functioning, whether in personal relationships, business - or the apartment rental market. Finding the best tenants is difficult, and after a wrong choice, landlords sometimes give up the whole process. But equally, being a tenant is no easier.
What could help to build trust between landlords and tenants? How can the rental market be more accessible and affordable for everyone? How can we reduce the time we spend finding the best flat at a fair price? And how can you find the best tenants in the shortest time?
Nino Cosic, the founder of Worig - a Croatian startup breaking into the apartment rental market - had these questions in mind when starting the business. "As a student, it was a real challenge to find an apartment that did not require a huge down payment. Also, I was not employed at that time, so I had no way of getting a loan from a bank. Now, that I'm settled in my apartment I’m thinking about these problems of my past, trying to solve this issue for others," says Nino. "With our app, we help tenants and landlords solve trust and financial issues related to renting by providing a reliable and verifiable score along with financial instruments to cover the rent deposit.”
Worig’s solution is focused on two main challenges, the pain of tenants who are obliged to pay two or three months in advance as a down payment, and landlords’ uncertainty where they are unable to check references or previous rental history for their potential tenants. “We solve these problems by building credit and Worig score within the app, based on the reliable and verifiable data collected from the registered tenants. This enables tenants to use our app to file for a loan or buy rental guarantee insurance. Worig score is used by landlords to gain insight into tenants' employment status, income regularity, reliability and previous rental ratings they’ve received from other landlords,” Cosic summarises.
A scalable solution for the international market
There are several country-specific solutions on the market, but these share a major drawback. “If you are searching for an apartment in Berlin, but haven't been living in Germany previously, you are not able to get your credit report. Our report is available for all EU citizens with accounts in EU banks and can be provided in the language the landlord understands,” he adds. Solving this makes Worig’s solution internationally attractive.
Even though EU statistics differ greatly in terms of rent-vs-owning from country to country, there is a growing trend of more people renting each year. “Furthermore, with the freedom of movement, more and more people are relocating across the EU, whether it is to study at a university or for work, meaning they need to have access to tenants’ backgrounds and financial scores to be able to rent an apartment in a foreign country,” says Cosic.
The team grasped the opportunity and applied for the EIT Digital Venture Program in the spring of 2019. Being accepted was one of the first signs that the concept was not just unique but also valuable. The programme consisted of a bootcamp and 6-weeks pre-acceleration programme, including courses and mentoring alongside funding. After the pre-acceleration finished, the startup received a follow-on investment and entered an accelerator programme provided by a Croatian Venture Capital firm - Fil Rouge Capital.
A clear business model
About the present and next steps, the founder says: “We have a core team that developed the app and who are now working on new features that we plan to roll out in 2020. There will be multiple revenue streams as we move through phases introducing more services within the app. The main revenue stream will be from a fee charged to landlords as they gather information about their potential tenants, along with a share of a fee from financial service providers that will offer financial and insurance products to tenants to cover their rent guarantee.” On the international market, Worig’s partners could get the chance to reach potential customers for their financial services or products.
Currently, Worig operates only in Croatia. There, its users are not just landlords and tenants, but several real estate agencies that are actively utilising the service. Building on that strong basis, the team are working on the next steps towards reaching more countries and financial partners on the EU market. According to Cosic, success needs this ambitious vision, corporate values, and a good team too.