#TrendingStartups: Interview with Nick Katz Co-founder of Splittable

Splittable is an app built to harmonize the way that people share a home. With a goal to keep shared living simple and to foster happiness, Splittable allows users to easily split and pay each other back for all living expenses including anything from rent/electricity to buying rolls of toilet paper.

On January 21st, 2016, Splittable version 2.0 was released to the Apple Store and became featured as one of the ‘Best New Apps’ in both the US & UK.

-= Purpose =-

What problem did you set out to fix in this world? How did you want to disrupt or disrupted your industry? What inspired you do this?

Managing shared finances poorly can cause good relationships between housemates to fall apart. Splittable solves this pain by providing a beautiful and simple interface to organise your expenditure at home and visualises who paid for what.

I was inspired to do this after a fall-out with my best friend/house mate over household finances.

How did you make it happen? Did you write a business plan, had a clear strategy and a business model or did you just started doing it and then figured it out in the process. Has your initial vision changed since the launch?

We had a clear vision that we have continued to revise and focus over time. Initially we set out to connect everyone to a digital representation of their home. That made sense to some people, but not all, but we were making progress on building our MVP for a dashboard for the home. Once we got there, we realised there was much more pain as well as opportunity for us to help people in the earliest stages of their property journey ie people renting and sharing, so we’ve refined our dashboard to focus on solving issues revolving around group expenditure and payments in the home and our vision as well as our mission has really crystallised: Our mission is to harmonise the way people live together.


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What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?

It was a big risk to focus on millennials living and sharing property together, not least because it’s not a space or market that has a lot of well known business models or technology (or even other) brands operating. We got so much pushback early doors from investors, admittedly most of those who had never felt the sting of sharing property in the private rental market, who could not understand how much pain there is dealing with money with your housemates or how many housemates there actually are out there. Now that we’ve demonstrated that tons of people have this problem and that there are at least 40 million people like this in the UK, EU and US investors come knocking on our door without asking almost as quickly as housemates are signing up.

-= Advice: From launch to funding=- 

What would be your tip to someone looking for an investment? How did you find your investors? 

Create competitive tension with your round by finding momentum. Find momentum by getting someone close to you, that you trust and vice versa and has some capital to spare. Get them to commit to invest in your business. Go to another person that you’re close to, tell them you have a commitment of £x. Get them to make a commitment ideally of the same size or larger. Rinse and repeat. Many ppl will say no. Do not get discouraged. The best entrepreneurs in the world and the biggest businesses have had some of the most rejection. Keep going, find momentum with your round, go see bigger and bigger angels or investors once you get toward 50% of your goal, and after that keep it going until you are pushing towards being oversubscribed. That is competitive tension. The faster you get there, the more competitive it will be. Do your best to have one person on the team lead on this and take most of the meetings while your cofounder/team focus on building the business. Find someone, cofounder/mentor/advisor/investor you trust to report your findings, learnings and progress to so you can make sure you have some additional accountability. Track everything you do, write down all the feedback you receive, iterate your pitch each time and always…always try to get another introduction or two from each meeting you have.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to startup founders? What do founders need to focus on in order to be successful?

Focus – if you need to raise capital, make that your 99% focus. If you need to build your MVP, make customer research and prototyping your 99% focus. I say 99% bc 100% is unrealistic, but the closer to fully focused you are on a singular goal the faster you will get there. That’s probably the only real advice you need!

Learn – one of the most attractive qualities of an entrepreneur to employees, investors and hopefully your better, future self will be how quickly you learn and how open and willing to take critique you are.

Determination – don’t give up. If you feel like giving up, go talk to another founder who is a step or two ahead of you. Every time I do, it’s like a new awakenening for me. You’ll get through whatever issues you are having – it feels like the end of the world, or an impossible road block, but each challenge, each problem – is an opportunity in waiting. In the early days sometimes you need a peer/friend to help you remember that.

-= Productivity & Constant Learning=-

What are your favourite apps that make your live easier and media sites that you read every day to stay updated?

As a team we have become huge fans of both Slack and Trello. Slack has proved to be both a fun way to maintain communication with one another and effective for keeping our team up to date on various developments with the app. Trello has proved to be a very effective organizational method for keeping track of various tasks both for myself and while communicating with others at Splittable.

My go to media sites are: Product HuntTech Crunch. Not a media site as such but I love my “Google Alerts” set up for my industry keywords that I care about, for me “Real estate technology” and “property technology”

Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Who do you learn from how to grow your business?

Nilan Peiris at Transferwise who is their Head of Growth is incredibly inspiring. Seedcamp and all of our investors have been incredible mentors to me and us.  Other startup founders have been a huge source of inspiration and particularly comfort during the difficult times, and I do my best to help and advise those in my network when they are having troubles

-= Future=-

Where do you see your company in a few years’ time and what are your thoughts on the future of your industry how is it changing?

We’re undergoing an unprecedented urban migration. 70% of the world’s population will have moved and live in cities by 2050. Housing development can’t keep up so with ever rising house prices and spiralling costs of living, I believe that co-living is going to be something that will continue to grow with people staying in shared homes much later into their lives. I want Splittable to stay at the forefront of solving problems faced by these people sharing a home together. Initially moving into a quick and easy system to pay bills or book a cleaner, I see Splittable becoming a platform that will help people manage their homes all around their world and lead happier, more stress free lives at home. Our mission is to harmonise the way people live together, and we’ve got a number of exciting things up our sleeve to extend beyond these initial services to help us to continue to deliver on that mission.

What kinds of companies or particular technologies are you most excited about right now and what trends do you think are overhyped?

I think crowdfunding for property is quite interesting. I also get really excited when I see businesses that are not focused around transactions, but instead problems – it’s usually where you see some of the most innovative tech in the b2c space, like Citymapper for instance. I think online estate agency is overhyped and it’s talked about way too much!

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