Brothers Elliot and Rod. They both have over 10 years experience in accommodation management and love running their own business.
We did a little interview and here are the questions we asked them.
Where did you get the idea for Urbanstay?
ROD: It was right back at Uni in 2006 when my brother and I had an opportunity to take over the management rights for a student house in Camberwell. Being a student it was the perfect job as it allowed me to work my own hours and pick up some good income as well!.
ELLIOT: As much as the opportunity came to us, we consciously decided to take it to the next level and grow our portfolio to about 8 properties. After closing up the business temporarily, we reopened again in 2014 as Urbanstay.
"Urbanstay is the reincarnation of our existing business but with a lot more focus and drive."
Tell us about closing the business and reopening again as Urbanstay.
ROD: After finishing Uni, El and I both went our separate ways and pursued various corporate jobs. It was important for me to try my hand working for a big organisation and learn how business runs on that scale. Two years in, it became very clear to me that I am much more suited to being my own boss.
ELLIOT: It was quite funny as both our paths crossed again after leaving our full-time jobs. I have always enjoyed setting up and running my own business, so i was looking for several opportunities for a few months. I really felt liberated by being my own boss, but no particular idea was pulling me. It wasn’t until another property came our way to manage that we felt why not pursue our accommodation business again?!
ROD: Urbanstay is the reincarnation of our existing business but with a lot more focus and drive. We knew there was demand for shared accommodation and also an opportunity to stand out amongst the crowd by providing a better quality product.
What makes Urbanstay different from other forms of accommodation for students and young professionals?
ROD: Our commitment from day 1 has been to focus on quality, service and make it hassle-free for our members. Our rooms come with good quality furniture, sufficient space for clothes, desks and lamps and 32 inch HD TVs. All properties are stocked with cleaning supplies, have unlimited WIFI and are serviced with cleaners. Every time we open a new property I see it as an opportunity to take our business to the next level!
ELLIOT: And we also want to make it hassle-free for our members. People move in and don’t need to lift a finger. Everything is provided to hit the ground running. We know that upon arrival to Melbourne, students and young professionals don’t want to spend time and money buying their own furniture, signing into long leases or locking themselves into contracts. We do all that for them and offer flexible leasing arrangements which our members really value.
"..the only thing stopping you from succeeding in business is “YOU!”. The mental limits and fears we set ourselves are all artificial. Working in business provides a platform for you to THINK BIG and set your goals high. "
What do you love most about running your own business?
ROD: Creating my own day-to-day schedule and not living by the conventional 9-5 has always been important to me. Tim Ferriss calls it lifestyle design and I really resonate with that concept, check out his podcast called the fourhourworkweek. I really value having the flexibility to work when I want, play when I want or spend quality time with family and friends when it suits.
Another amazing part of the business is growing a team around me. I believe in treating people the way I want to be treated. That means entrusting my team with responsibility, autonomy and the freedom to work when they want as long as they get the job done. I love helping them all realise their dreams and help them grow as individuals in business and life.
Two of our team members work overseas in Pakistan and Philippines - in Accounting and Marketing/Communications. It’s not only amazing to be connected instantaneously to our virtual team, but it also pushes me to create an outcome-driven work culture rather than a ‘facetime’ 9-5 workplace. I can’t monitor what my team does minute by minute so 9-5 doesn’t work, but I can set goals and responsibilities and measure efforts and performance. I take a lot of inspiration from Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, and the way he runs his distributed workforce. See one of his interviews HERE.
ELLIOT: I have always enjoyed running my own business from early school days where I set up a holiday sports clinic for school kids. I love taking on the challenge of setting up a business, driving sales growth and managing all the little tasks that need to get done. It’s very empowering to be rewarded with the fruit of your labour.
I also believe that the only thing stopping you from succeeding in business is “YOU!”. The mental limits and fears we set ourselves are all artificial. Working in business provides a platform for you to THINK BIG and set your goals high.
Where do you see Urbanstay in 3-5 years?
ROD: Accommodation as we know it is changing. Young professionals and students want to have the flexibility to be ‘nomadic’, shift around the globe, work or study abroad or experience living in different parts of the same city. Our target market are also getting married later, prefer to live inner-city and don’t want to be tied down to possessions, long-term leases or mortgages! We live in an Age of Access over Ownership - so we see accommodation as a service that can be tailored to members. And we see this demand growing in the long-term.
We are also working closely with our Real Estate Partners to expand into the coliving space. Coliving is an extension of what we currently do but on a larger scale. Think of a 20+ room residence, each with private bathroom and kitchenette, modern shared kitchens, comfortable lounge, coworking area and a strong sense of community. Instead of leasing your own 1 bedroom apartment and furnishing it yourself, why not lease a furnished apartment on flexible terms with the privacy of your own home and access to community events and friends.
You can also listen to Rod interviewed on the Pathways podcast HERE to see how he ended up where he is now.