Lyvly is a London-based startup creating unique shared living communities.
What problem is Lyvly currently solving and how?
We’re rethinking what it means to live in major cities when you’re a young professional. Whether you’re new in town or have been living there for a while, it can feel isolating and frustrating to live in apartment blocks with random flatmates and few ways to make genuine, valuable connections, whilst paying fees left, right, and centre, and suffering from poor service. It just isn’t the right experience, because the property market isn’t built for tenants.
We’re rebuilding it the way we believe it should be: a cosy furnished room in a wide choice of quality homes, well connected to central London, without any of the usual frustrations such as having to deal with splitting the bills, figuring out whose turn it is to clean the common areas, chasing the landlord about a broken pipe… And a really welcoming and like-minded community starting with vetted housemates and active groups in each of our neighbourhoods and across London, with lots of events and activities organised by the community for the community.
What does “home” mean to you, Phil, and how has that informed your vision for the company?
I think there are quite a few things we call home: naturally, it’s the roof above your head, the safe space to which you can retire after a long day at work, where you can relax and be yourself. But it’s also the feeling of belonging — the family home, the familiar space with connections to relatives, neighbours and friends, is often no longer there once you’re in a large city like London, where it’s too easy to feel alone in a crowd.
This is what inspired my vision for Lyvly: we want to create the space to live, by which I mean both the physical and mental space where you can live your life to its fullest.
This is something that really resonates with our members: often they’ve just arrived in London from somewhere else in the UK, or from abroad, and they’re not really satisfied or fulfilled with the home they’ve found. They join Lyvly, and suddenly they’re joining a bunch of members that rotate hosting home-cooked Sunday dinners with their favourite dishes. Then someone comes up with a Christmas dinner for expats who aren’t going home or people rent a house in Madrid to spend a weekend exploring, the city. These are the experiences that make you truly feel at home in London.
What makes a Lyvly home and resident?
This is actually something we’re always iterating on, and we’re in constant contact with the community to see how we can evolve it. From the early days we’ve been pretty clear that we didn’t want to build the type of community that’s controlled from the top, but instead is shaped and controlled by the members themselves.
In practice we have a group of leaders made of some of our most active or longest-serving members, as well as our own Lyvly team of community champions. Together they come up with the direction for the community and vet new applicants — we’re really looking for people who meet our shared values and are not only going to get something from joining Lyvly, but also want to give back and contribute.
Our homes don’t feel like they were all made from the same template — some are 3-bed flats, some are 6-bed houses, but they all share the same standards. We pick quality homes that are well connected to Central London and the main places where you might work. We then furnish and decorate them, and add a bunch of services that are made to take some of the frustration away. We take care of all utility bills, council tax, communal cleaning and basic household supplies, fast broadband and even Netflix. We’re putting a lot of attention into our service, which is often delivered by the local Lyvly team, who go around your neighborhood during the day.
We’d love to hear about your business journey and expansion plans for 2020?
We’ve been lucky to be surrounded by incredible mentors and board members such as Greg Marsh, founder of onefinestay, having also raised $4.6m during our Series A from Mosaic Ventures.
We’ve really been focused on London so far — already a huge market in itself. We’ve been gaining real traction here, and want to build a truly meaningful community of thousands of engaged Lyvly members across the city before we start expanding outside of London. We’re looking at both the rest of the UK and other major international cities across Europe and the US, but we know the importance of refining the product and the operations before you scale it across many cities. In that sense 2020 should be very exciting for our members, with major investment into the community and the level of service we deliver.
Community and network seem very important to LYVLY. What does that look like and do you have any member stories of how those networks have been leveraged successfully?
I think one of my favourite elements of the community is that both the members and the Lyvly team are intertwined — we even have the same set of values embedded in our DNA. Every week we dedicate a segment of our team meeting to stories from the community, and I’ve lost track of the number of times one of our team met members at a friends’ birthday party. Here are some of my favourite stories this year.
4 members met in a Lyvly home in Clapham, became super close friends to the extent that they all got an invite to a brother’s wedding in South Africa. They went on a 3-week trip of a lifetime, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
This summer, a group of members from one neighbourhood grouped together to rent a mega-home in Spain for a couple of weeks and travelled out to work remotely from there together. Working in the day, and partying at night (and maybe a little in the day too ;).
Recently, one of our members launched an awesome dating app that has had great traction and creates wonderful spontaneity in meeting people (shout out to Honeypot!). George, the founder, rolled it out to Lyvly members as a beta, and the whole community are big advocates. I’ve even worn their branded clothes to board meetings to raise awareness for the Honeypot brand.
One of our members hosts events at Wembley and the Brixton Academy, giving out free backstage tickets to the most active Lyvly members and some of our team. Having benefited from it, I can say that going backstage at Twenty One Pilots at Wembley is pretty cool.
Ski trips, adventures, brunch pals, exploring outside London, cycling and much more every day. The community is really active in supporting each other. At 500 people, and growing fast, you just find members all across London doing interesting things.
Finally, can you recommend any books and/or podcasts that informed your founder journey — or generally help you lead and grow?
I love reading, and there are so many great writers out there for entrepreneurs.
A few of my favourites that have really impacted my journey include:
Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh
Peak: How All Of Us Can Achieve Extraordinary Things, by Patrick M Lencioni
The 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team: A Leadership Fable, by Anders Ericsson
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.