Last November, more than 1000 startups registered for the Web Summit, the annual European tech event hosted in Lisbon, Portugal. Among these, 200 were selected to pitch their idea, and the best three were chosen to pitch to an audience of 10.000 people. PapayaPods was one of the three finalists.

PapayaPods is a web-based rental housing management software application born at La Forge , a co-working space for starting entrepreneurs located at the Innovation Park of EPFL in Switzerland. Founded by Alex Just, Jakub Riziky and Adrien Stucki, three friends who studied together at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, their team was soon joined by Aaron and Elliot Pitts, software developers from the UK. PapayaPods started as a school project in 2013. At the beginning the idea was to take the hospitality model and apply it to student accommodation. Two years later, the concept developed into a software solution that helps hosts and tenants rent apartments effectively.

While other housing rental apps focus on the part of listing and renting out a flat or room, PapayaPods goes further by focusing on the entire process, providing constant communication between the landlord and tenant. So, if something breaks in the house, the tenant can report it through the platform and let the landlord know what needs to be done. Also, PapayaPods will help with the management and processing of monthly rent payments, giving users more control over this sensitive and crucial area of the rental journey.

“PapayaPods is a tool that helps those renting accommodation since the moment you book the room and it continues with the rest of the processes, such as signing a contract…We support people throughout the entire rental journey. You can list the room, message each other, manage processes online to save a lot of time, and it is all easy and fun to use” said Jakub Riziky, COO and Co-founder.

PapayaPods dashboard

.“We will be able to process rental payments, and if for example the tenant breaks something and you need to pay your service provider to fix it, you will be able to do so through the platform.” Jakub Riziky

PapayaPods is currently located in 10 cities in Switzerland, England and Spain. The team thinks the three countries have different responses to the rental market: “One of the big differences of the market is the mentality of the general public, how they try and accept this different solution. London is probably the most responsive one but also the one that has the most competition. Switzerland is a great market. Although some people take a while before they take the leap and change their way of doing things, most of them are very tech-savvy. The most difficult part in Barcelona is basically getting access to the landlords, because they seem to be hiding behind the veil of agencies and we feel that agencies are the most difficult to approach and strongly rooted in Barcelona. For things to move really quickly, you need to be in a fair market that is based on trust” points out Jakub Riziky.

And trust is the basis of the success of rental companies according to Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of Airbnb. In a TED Talk last April he said that today more people are open to the process of finding better solutions because of the difficulty and paperwork requirements involved in the traditional way of doing things.

Papayapods agrees with that but takes a different path from Airbnb. They provide long-term bookings and focus more on the management process. A revolutionary software that made a big impression at the Web Summit 2016, they were selected as the best “SaaS (Software as a Service) start-up and were among the Top 3 finalists in the pitch competition.

Web Summit Lisbon

“(The Web Summit) was Disneyland for entrepreneurs. I think it was interesting for us to see the potential of our company. We didn´t anticipate meeting that many new clients. We were maybe expecting partners but we were not expecting so many attendees to also be landlords interested in our software to support their day to day operations” said Diego Sotelo, Market Acquisition at PapayaPods.

The technical part of the platform was really challenging. “The most difficult aspect of developing the app was making the features as dynamic as we need them to be, while developing as fast as we could to get to market.” expressed Elliot Pitts, Lead Software Engineer & Co-founder of the company.

The platform is easy, dynamic and in just five steps you can list your property or find your dream apartment.

The rental process can be easy if you have the specific tools to manage it. PapayaPods aims to make the rental housing easier and more accessible for anyone, anywhere in the world.