Blueground is a constantly growing company with more than 700 employees all over the world and a presence in 15 countries with over 8.500 apartments for rent. The company started its operation in Greece in 2013 and soon after expanded into Turkey and the UAE. In 2017, Blueground also expanded to the US by launching its services in New York City.
Alex Chatzieleftheriou, CEO & Co-Founder of Blueground in an interview for the CEOWORLD magazine said that the company in 2021 -despite the pandemic’s impact globally – managed to maintain a global occupancy of 94% and exceeded $145m in revenue, adding that “we have been building further on this momentum in 2022 and expect to surpass $300m in full-year revenue”. Alex Chatzieleftheriou and his partners work consistently in order to reach their goal for the company which is to be present in 50 cities across the world with 40.000 apartments by 2025.
Q: When Blueground was founded, which gap came to fill in the market?
Alex Chatzieleftheriou: Blueground was founded in 2013. The inspiration came after I spent five years living out of hotels in 12 different cities as a business consultant.
Renting a fully-furnished apartment was tedious and time-consuming. It involved a manual process with burdensome administration and multiple different parties without technology enablement. It came with inflexible terms and predominantly unfurnished apartments. I also recognized the significant expense my company was spending for me, and others, to stay in hotels for months at a time. And quite simply, I never truly felt at home.
I co-founded Blueground to address a huge gap in the market and an unmet need for flexibility along with high and consistent quality furnished apartments available for stays of one month or more. Blueground makes renting easy through a completely tech-enabled search and booking process and flexible contract terms. Now renters can rent apartments where they want, when they want, and on the terms they want.
This is what Blueground offers guests- a trusted, quality home, expertly designed that they can view online, book with a few clicks, and simply show up with their personal items and start living.
Q: At the moment, in which cities around the world has your portfolio expanded? What about your future plans in the coming years?
Alex Chatzieleftheriou: We currently operate in 26 cities in 15 countries with over 8.500 apartments. Our goal is to be present in 50 cities across the world with 40.000 apartments by 2025.
We’ve been hard at work since the start of the year and launched 11 new cities so far, including Basel, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Zurich, Lisbon, Luxembourg, and Madrid in Europe and Miami in the US. Only last month we entered Asia for the first time, launching in Hong Kong and Singapore.
We also made our first strategic investment in another company in our space – Brazilian PropTech company, Tabas. Through Tabas, we gained access to Latin America and now covering São Paulo and Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.
Q: How was 2021 for your company concerning revenue? What do you expect for 2022?
Alex Chatzieleftheriou: Last year was a very strong year for us. While navigating the storm of the pandemic successfully, we launched six new cities and attained cash flow positivity. We managed to maintain a global occupancy of 94% and exceeded $145m in revenue. We have been building further on this momentum in 2022 and expect to surpass $300m in full-year revenue.
The ‘remote employee’ segment which has emerged, is growing and we expect companies to steadily introduce new initiatives supporting remote working, effectively blurring the line of what used to be the definition of a business trip. We are seeing the highest demand ever and close to 40% of the people staying with us do so for a change of scenery. This percentage is likely to continue growing within this flexible working environment.
Q: Do you plan new acquisitions? Also, one of your goals is the registration of the company in the stock market. How close are you to that goal?
Alex Chatzieleftheriou: We are very excited about our latest investment in Brazilian proptech Tabas. It provided us with a high-performing partner with local market expertise and a presence in LATAM. It was Blueground’s first investment in another company and marks the opportunity and our intention to grow in new markets in a non-organic way, i.e. through investments or acquisitions in other companies.
Taking the company public is definitely part of our future goals. The timeline however will largely depend on the market conditions.
Q: Can you make a comment about the real estate market both in Greece and internationally in the coming years?
Alex Chatzieleftheriou: The real estate market has been going through significant changes in the last few years, especially driven by trends that were accelerated by the pandemic.
When it comes to residential real estate and apartment rentals, which is our focus, people’s behaviors with regard to the way they rent are changing, and flexibility is here to stay. Many of the large residential players, including publicly listed REITs, expect the move-in ready furnished rental to grow further and eventually make up 10-20% of their portfolio. These renters expect to be able to stay as little as a month and prefer to rent fully equipped, tech-enabled homes, as they value their move-in-ready nature and want a hospitality-esque experience. The gap between real estate and hospitality, and working and living is closing.
Besides residential, commercial real estate has also evolved since the onset of the pandemic. With the rise of remote working, offices are moving into more flexible designs with more multi-use space in order to be adaptable to changes according to the needs of businesses. This can also be seen in new residential developments that now have increased the allocation of workspaces for the emerging remote working world.
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