Ukio, Europe’s premium apartment rental platform for ‘flexible workforce’, raises $28M TechCrunch

Ukio, a short-term furnished apartment rental platform aimed at the “flexible workforce”, has raised €27 million (US$28 million) in its first funding round. The cash injection constitutes €17m in equity and €10m in debt, and comes some 14 months after the Spanish company announced a €9m seed funding round.

Founded in Barcelona in 2020, Ukio targets a very specific sub-group of society – a community that doesn’t like to be tied to a fixed location, either in their personal or professional lives. With the remote working revolution still in full swing, Ukio wants to give professionals the comforts of home with the added perks and flexibility of a hotel, with each apartment including reception and reception area, while some properties also include weekly housekeeping and linen/towel replacement.

Furthermore, the price of each property includes all utilities (eg broadband and electricity), taxes and everything you normally get for a nightly hotel rate. All the renter has to worry about is a recurring monthly payment that they pay directly to Ukio, who handles all the maintenance and management behind the scenes.

The company says the average length of stay in a Ukio-sourced apartment is four to five months, though it does support one- to 11-month stays. It should be noted that guests initially book for a specific time period, but they can extend their stay through Ukio’s online platform.

Sources

As for how Ukio sources its apartments, co-founder Stanley Fortwo says they’re adopting a “multi-pronged sourcing strategy” targeting individual landlords, property developers and family offices. Ukio typically accepts lease agreements of seven to 10 years with landlords, which means they are obligated to stay on the platform for that duration – but to protect itself from underperforming properties, Ukio only has a one-year commitment, which means it only has to Provide notice after 45 days of the first year. However, she says she rarely has to do this.

“Ukio uses the tools of ownership to source high-quality apartments off the market, based on rigorous standards in prime locations in every city,” Furtue told TechCrunch. “A data-driven supply acquisition strategy, combined with on-the-ground local real estate knowledge, ensures that the moment Ukio launches in a new city, we can quickly and efficiently acquire a portfolio of quality apartments.”

While Ukio’s strategy begins with a more outward approach, over time existing multiple landlords often increase their presence on the Ukio platform, according to Fortwo.

“As the brand becomes familiar and trusted in our markets, we are seeing a steady increase in existing owners providing more and more supply, as well as new owners willing to partner with us,” he said. “In the cities we’ve been living in for over a year, Ukio’s inbound leads averaged about 60% compared to 40% outbound.”

Ukio co-founders Jeremy and Stanley Furtue. Image credits: Ukyo

target market

It looks like Ukio can cater to two primary use cases. A young professional, for example, who can work from wherever he wants may want to try out a new city before committing to a long-term hire – Ukio will serve this purpose reasonably well. Alternatively, someone who has landed a new job in a fixed brick-and-mortar office can use Ukio as a temporary stop until they find more suitable housing in the long term. A fully furnished pad with all the trimmings is much more attractive than a hotel, or even an AirBnb property, which is usually not well suited for long-term residences.

“Finding an apartment and renting it for a month or more is still too complicated and time-consuming for modern consumers who are used to doing everything and anything digitally,” said Ukio co-founder Jeremy Fortwo. “Ukio was created to overcome this challenge.”

The main appeal for renters is that Ukio essentially protects them from the hassle and limitations of traditional rental models. But this, of course, comes at a premium, with the cheapest properties starting at around €1,750 per month and ranging up to €5,000. Since the beginning of the year, Ukio said it has seen revenue growth sevenfold year-on-year, with an occupancy rate of 96% across its more than 400 properties currently listed.

Ukio platform. Image credits: Ukyo

Currently, Ukio is most active in her native Barcelona and Madrid, claiming rents of 210 and 125 apartments, respectively. But it has also expanded to Lisbon (Portugal) and Berlin (Germany), with Paris and Milan on the horizon for the coming months, followed by London and Dublin, among others.

This expansion is what Ukio’s new Series A investment will primarily fund, while it said it’s also working on a B2B offering for businesses increasing their international presence.

Ukio’s surge comes as several similar platforms have raised large rounds of funding. Birmingham, Alabama-based Landing recently secured $125 million in Series C financing, while San Francisco’s Zumper raised $30 million with a doubling of short-term flexible leases. Last year, New York-based Blueground raised $140 million.

For its part, Furto said, Ukyo is about Europe and will remain so “for the foreseeable future.” The company’s Series A round was led by Felix Capital, with participation from Kreos Capital, Breega, Partech, Heartcore, Bynd and a host of angel investors.