PapayaPods is a “Software as a Service” startup from Lausanne, Switzerland with a solution that aims to simplify rental housing processes for both landlords and tenants, anywhere in the world. Their premium product, PapayaPods ProManagement, offers a set of tools that allow property owners or operators to find tenants and to handle all processes related to rental housing quickly and efficiently, in one place.
Its founders, recent graduates from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and EPFL in Switzerland, set out to solve a problem they faced multiple times throughout their student life: finding accommodation. The commissions charged by real estate agencies or property brokers and the lack of open communication at existing apartment search portals that make users pay booking fees in order to secure a room, before allowing them to chat with the landlord or visit the place, were the initial frustrations that motivated the team to take the leap of faith and start a business.
During the initial stages of the project, the team behind PapayaPods moonlighted and kept on working in their day jobs, while developing the startup and gearing up for development and the eventual launch. As we have seen in FACE, career-related fears are an important concern when taking the plunge and embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. The PapayaPods team argues that “although moonlighting meant an extra effort, it allowed us to financially stay afloat during the initial phase of the project, but also to apply our professional experience in the implementation of our own idea.” However, it is important to keep your ultimate goal in mind and understand that you will eventually have to dedicate a hundred percent of your attention to your business.
That’s what the PapayaPods’ team ended up doing too: In mid-2015, they quit their day jobs and worked full-time to launch the first version of PapayaPods in spring 2016. Thanks to their innovative approach towards rental housing, they have managed to gain significant traction since that time. The lack of direct competitors focusing on both process management and distribution proved to be an untapped opportunity in the European market. This teaches us another lesson that we’ve repeatedly highlighted at FACE: it’s very important to analyze your potential competitors before launching your own business. See what’s already out there, what could be improved and what added value you can offer.
PapayaPods made a big impression at the Web Summit 2016, the leading European tech event recently hosted in Lisbon, where the team presented their platform to more than 15 thousand people. PapayaPods was selected best “Software as a Service” start-up. Moreover, it was among the Top 3 finalists from a total of 60.000 startups that applied to pitch, out of which 200 were selected to participate.
The Swiss startup is currently in the process relocating their operations to Barcelona. They aim to expand first to Spain and afterwards to the United Kingdom.
As all entrepreneurs learn the hard way, starting up a business has its ups and downs. Leaving the security of a regular job behind and taking a great personal risk is not something everyone is willing to do. However, PapayaPods is a clear example that quick implementation, rapid learning and iteration not only minimize the risks associated with starting up, but also allow you to build a better product that truly answers the users needs. At the end of the day, the inevitable insecurities and fears are overshadowed by the motivation that comes with a seeing your dream come to life.