Blueground, a company which provides furnished apartments to rent for work-related travellers in various cities, is expanding into London in 2020.
The company was founded in Athens, Greece, but now operates in Istanbul and Dubai, as well as six US cities including New York and San Francisco.
While the plan is to launch in six major European cities in 2020, its founder Alex Chatzieleftheriou said London will be the most significant new location.
He said: “London is a huge business hub and I think it will be our biggest market along with New York.
“Most businesses have their European HQs in London.”
Blueground will have places to rent in Zone 1, including Canary Wharf and Marylebone.
The company works by renting out apartments, which it then furnishes and leases to travellers, who can book them online.
It typically caters for people who want to stay for a maximum of a year, while the average stay is five months.
Typically businesspeople rent out the properties, though it could also be people who work for government organisations or a sports team.
Founding the company
Chatzieleftheriou founded the company in 2013 after previously working as a management consultant for six and a half years, where he spent a lot of time on the road.
He grew frustrated with having to rely on expensive hotels, or unfurnished apartments in the US where you’d need to buy furniture.
Blueground currently employs 400 people, 50 of which develop software and work with data.
It has a data science team, which employs machine learning models to decide on pricing.
In October the company raised $50m in series B funding, bringing the total raised to $78m.
However Chatzieleftheriou pledged to be “frugal” and ensure the business grows responsibly.
Differences with Airbnb
Chatzieleftheriou responded to comparisons with Airbnb.
He added: “Airbnb are a platform where people list their apartments, while they are in the leisure space.
“The way we operate is we control the entire journey – we rent the apartment and design the property.
“With Airbnb it varies in quality and service.”
Blueground is designed for people that want to stay in a location for longer, while the focus is on businesspeople.
Chatzieleftheriou plans to expand Blueground’s offering with more ‘community services’, in order in “to make people feel at home wherever they choose to live”.
The company already offers some services.
For example in New York it has a partnership with a gym company called Equinox, allowing renters to get better rates.
You can also get in contact with Blueground to alter something about your property, such as changing a second bedroom to a desk.
In future he wants to provide travellers with local information on the city, like where to go to the theatre or for a hike.
He was also open to the idea of linking up users of Blueground with fellow users who are new to a city.
Chatzieleftheriou said: “When spending five years on the road it was awesome to get to know different people and cities.
“But it’s tough moving to a new country and not necessarily not knowing what to do.”