Solving a $73 Billion Problem From my Bedroom in Clapham
Why a Qandor member has backed Yuno and how you can get involved as an investor, partner or client. Written by Paul Conway of Yuno
As is often the case, SaaS businesses start off really slow for two reasons. Firstly, tech costs A LOT and, secondly, you need many subscription customers to even meet payroll. So, this was us, up the creek without a paddle. Trying to meet payroll, bootstrapping services to pay for tech and trying to get investment right when COVID struck… and to top it all off, someone broke into the office and stole all our computers. Now, where’s my paddle again?
Don’t worry about the computers though, ‘find my mac/iPhone’ tracked them in under an hour; the police were still taking statements when we were there taking our computers back off them. In hindsight, perhaps the safety rating of this exercise was pretty low, but we needed to keep the lights on and this was the last straw.
Yuno was created to empower businesses in property to make smart decisions. This is because how we make decisions is disjointed, often based on emotion, a hunch, and almost always made without all the required information. Even with the benefits of 30 years’ experience, the market and legislation moves fast – the latter changing on average every 9 days.
But why ‘Yuno’, I hear you ask? Yunonna is a Japanese word for ‘competent’, a word that became a pillar of what Yuno is today. It comes down to who we all take advice from: are they actually experts and should we listen to them? Can the people we are taking advice from be proven to be competent? Are they qualified, experienced and accredited?
Yuno was born out of a London based consultancy company serving high street agents such as Douglas & Gordon and Marsh & Parsons using this very motto, helping their landlords through complex legislation and tricky decisions on their investments. Data was complex and inconsistent with local authorities’ information and so-called experts regularly lead us up the garden path with poor advice. It became clear there was a need to systemise and automate the data and advice being given to landlords. The Yuno concept was born.
A huge learning curve ensued, full of wacky ideas and wild dreams that only a young tech company could fulfil; the only issue was… Yuno wasn’t a tech company. Yet.
I started my tech journey with one simple step (leap): ‘What the hell does Full Stack mean?’ For the non-techies among us, it means a developer (tech, not property) that can code in front end and back-end code. I won’t go much further but you get the idea of where the starting point was. Luckily, I am from an engineering background in the oil industry, so the learning curve after this point wasn’t so steep.
Fast forward about 3 days, we needed to get some excited techies on board and find a development partner to help make something valuable that a customer would want. Luckily, we were already working with Hamptons International and they stepped up to the plate and were excited to work with us on our journey. Our product manager got stuck into all the complex and time-consuming processes that Hamptons have in-house to manage compliance and the development of Yuno was underway.
We started with creating two key data sets, Property Licensing and Article 4 planning permission, which came from huge headaches from our partners on constantly changing legislation varying from borough to borough, street to street and sometimes house to house. We created a user-friendly platform to display the data sets and, scanning thousands of properties at the same time, we could easily let Hamptons know where their biggest risks lay hidden in their portfolio. Risks running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds were easily displayed to the user rather than random maps from the council as below.
Under the hood, Yuno is all very legislative and perhaps can be seen as a little boring, though on the surface Yuno is there to help you make smart investment decisions and empower you and your clients on the best steps to take on investment to reduce risk, increase revenue/yield and save time. Through our unique data sets, personalised journeys and smart insights, we help empower better decisions in property.
We have created a user-friendly platform where access to property data, insights and guidance is only a click away. Unique datasets in areas like licensing, planning and energy, are matched with existing data like sales and rental prices. Based on the property address you give us, we match you to a UPRN (Unique Property Reference Number) and tie all the data digitally back to this unique identifier.
From there, based on how you are running the property (residential – flat, house or building – or Commercial), we create a unique property journey, helping you make smarter decisions to increase revenue/yield, save time and drive down risk.
The platform is entirely bespoke to you and your property. When you edit details about your preferences or your property, Yuno adapts and surfaces the relevant information to you. We use smart algorithms and large data sets to empower the best property decisions.
Once the technology had advanced, we secured a partnership with the next fastest growing property tech company: in steps Sprift, the most comprehensive UK property reporting in the market.
And here we are today. It’s all about growing the value to the user, and our partners – from investors to portfolio landlords, property managers, estate agents, architects, planning companies, surveyors, letting agents, portals, mortgage and insurance brokers.
The team has grown organically and today we have Freddie (a notorious proptech mogul) as our COO; Linlin, or Frank to you and I, (a talented Machine Learning and AI) as our Data Scientist; Russell (an old school friend and experienced techy) as our CTO; and Alex (ex 999 rapid response operator) serving our clients as our lead Account Manager. Matching these rock stars with the rest of the team are investors and advisors and there is never a dull day in Yuno.
What’s happening next? Yuno is fundraising at the moment to take this model UK wide and in the future worldwide. Frank, our data scientist, is also working on machine learning models to predict events in the property market. Not all properties are ideal for investment properties and certainly as legislation changes are shaping a new landscape for the PRS, we hope to make this all seem a little more clear and stress free at every stage of the property journey with Yuno.
Could you be sitting on an asset that is a ticking time bomb and isn’t even worth holding anymore, or could it be generating a higher yield? And what obstacles are in the way?
Luckily for us, we have some really exciting interest in Yuno and it’s hard to keep up; we have one of the big portals looking to help add value to their agents and one of the largest Mortgage Brokers trying to add value to their landlords with Yuno.
If you want to come on the rest of the journey, you can join us as a partner or a member of the team, and Yuno is also fundraising EIS investment of £300K, which Antony Senny, a Qandor Member, has opened the round to and is our lead investor.