Market Watch

Hospitality proptech company UpperKey has big plans for USA

10 years of growth and development has delivered a new kind of property management business that’s ready to take on the world

With 10 years of experience throughout the capital cities of Europe, UpperKey has built a hospitality business that its owners are proud to describe as being ‘the first and best’ at what they do. In 2021 they’re letting the world know that they’re heading into a brand new marketplace, with many great things they’re bringing to the table.

UpperKey has led the change in the way that their industry operates. An early champion of business processautomation, they’ve eagerly turned many old-school practices on their heads by creating faster, more efficient, technology-driven alternatives to the way things were always done. This passion for innovation has projected them to the top of their field, and now they’re hungry for more.

Taking firm hold of the latest technologies and fully engaging with the digital disruptions in its sector, UpperKey has streamlined every area of its operations. Whichever movement or buzzword you choose to apply—from Real Estate
2.0 to Proptech and iRenting—they’re all appropriate for this property management wunderkind.

When you’ve risen to the top of your field, the big question is, where do you go next?

For the entrepreneurs behind UpperKey, the answer to this is obviously across the pond.

For UpperKey, the partnership behind the brand is about to roll-out its innovative hospitality solutions into a brand new marketplace. They expect to achieve growth to propel them into a different level of success.

Expanding their successful proptech business model into US markets

On top of their brilliant application of technology, their business model is a proven success. Unlike most agents, UpperKey take over every last responsibility of running their high-end apartments, from interior design, managing repairs and required upgrades, marketing, and placing the right tenants in the right apartments for prime terms—all to maximize returns.

On top of this tech-powered end-to-end service, property owners receive attractive guaranteed monthly rent payments for their properties without any of the work or the risk.

“If we’d have built our business in the US instead of Europe, we’d have over 4k properties by now.”

For a new business launching in major European capital cities, plenty of investors were willing to provide venture capital. Yet, the UpperKey partnership was adamant about retaining complete control, even if it meant having to work harder than ever.

By keeping a tight hold on the rein, they managed a 100% growth rate each year of their entirely self-funded operations.

One challenge, setting up their business in Europe is that every country operates with a different language and has its own set of laws and regulations. Breaking into the States is incredibly exciting for the UpperKey team, as it offers countless major cities in every State where they can set in motion and scale up their technology in largely homogeneous regulatory and legal frameworks without any language barrier.

Integrating the trove of data they’ve gathered over their previous ten years of operation in their latest system, they estimate that if they’d started their business in America instead of Europe, they’d have accrued over few thousand properties instead of over 350 they manage at the moment.

You can see why their latest venture is so exciting.

Automation is the key to growth and delivery

Their current model includes heavy use of digital smart-locks with AI automation powering almost every area of their operations. That includes reservations, listings, onboarding new clients, sales and marketing—all as you’d expect, but it also covers cleaning and maintenance scheduling and so much more.

With their fully streamlined service, you can expect to rent an apartment in under 5 minutes and have your smart key within the hour.

When it comes to onboarding new properties, they’ve got that down to an automated art too. With a system infrastructure that allows property owners to seamlessly submit their property details , the UpperKey model is primed for high-speed growth.

“We’re young, we’re driven, and we’re ambitious.”

The team is full of young, energetic, high-achievers who have grown up in an environment that embraces change to excel and to make the most of the technology at their fingertips. They’re perfectly suited to the UpperKey way of thinking and growth.

How to utilize something as destructive as the Coronavirus pandemic to create a positive plan to drive your future

Working and networking across so many regions allowed the business to see what was happening around the globe before Covid finally struck the UK. As challenging as those times were, the team behind UpperKey used the foresight they had been gifted to quickly recalibrate their organization toward maximal resilience and agility. Very early on their staff worked from homes using a 100% cloud-based system architecture to operate as efficiently as usual across different time zones and locations.

Johan Hajji, one half of the entrepreneurial team behind UpperKey, is an engineer who champions the tech-based solutions that are undoubtedly driving the future of hospitality business. Embracing AI to conduct mundane tasks—those better left to the software systems readily available to take over—streamlining outdated process is where he thrives.

“We were heading towards a contactless business model even before the pandemic; it merely allowed all parties, property owners, travellers… to realize it and accelerate the pace at which UpperKey has been embracing this path”

Benoit Lam, the other half of this entrepreneurial team, concurs and firmly believes that the pandemic forced businesses into technology-based changes that would have taken years to establish without it—not months.

“Right now, we have a striking opportunity for expansion, for broadening our horizons”

UpperKey has considered how they’d break the US market at various times during over the last 10 years. In the middle of the pandemic last year, Benoit decided to relocate together with his family to New York City reflecting his strong conviction on the huge potential of this market. With Benoit happily settled in Manhattan and Johan firmly based in London, there has never been a better time to expand—at either side of the pond.