What is Flat-Club?
Flat-Club is an exclusive network for alumni & students of top universities for short-term accommodation. The idea is to help us find people we trust – our friends of friends from our existing social networks for short-term accommodation solutions – anything from 1 night up to 6 months. It’s an ideal solution for exchanges, internships, travelling, relocation and even business trips. Hosts make extra income and network with other like-minded people , and guests save 80% of hotel prices and benefit from the extra facilities provided by a flat.
What makes Flat Club different from other room rental options like Craigslist and Air bNb?
Flat-Club is focusing on existing social networks where trust already exists rather than on creating a new social network. This creates 3 main differentiators:
- Exclusive Apartments & Rooms: Unlike any other website, hosts on Flat-Club can select who will see their posting, and post it only to those they already trust. This persuades many people who are private hosts ( and not professional vacation renters, to post their place with Flat-Club. We keep hearing from our hosts "I never posted my place online before and I wouldn't do it anywhere else".
- Better solutions for our customers: Since we focus on alumni & students of top universities, we understand their needs and we develop dedicated & exclusive solutions and benefits. For instance, last week we had our first offline networking event in London – inviting summer interns from all the top business schools to network. It was a great event and the feedback was fantastic!
- Real Community: Our hosts and guests also join Flat-Club to enjoy the benefits of having attended a top university. We have hosts who post an extra bedroom in very large houses in central London and New York. They don’t do it for the money but for the networking. They are very selective with their guests and just looking to meet others from top business schools for a few days . We get outstanding feedback from both these hosts and guests and we see relationships being built, especially among business school alumni and entrepreneurs.
Did you plan on becoming an entrepreneur when you started the MBA program at London Business School?
No. I actually decided to go to a business school in order accelerate my banking career. I did an internship with American Express and had a full time offer, however something didn’t feel right. I wasn’t really passionate about it. I started Flat-Club as a part time hobby, and the more work I put in the more I enjoyed it, and felt that I was finally able to reach to challenge myself to reach my potential. I chose Flat-Club as my career path simply because so far it’s the best job I have ever had.
Did you go into business school with the idea for Flat Club or did it come later?
The idea came from the need that I discovered while at business school. As students we were struggling to find short-term accommodation when moving to a new city, going on internships / exchange programmes and travelling on a budget. Also, we were looking to make extra income, and realized there was under-utilization of our empty flats when we were away. The next step was to think who do we trust to stay there, and that’s how we came up with Flat-Club – hosts can choose who will see their posting and decide who they want to stay there.
What should entrepreneurs look for when choosing an MBA program?
I think there are three important parameters for entrepreneurs to focus on:
- A strong and international alumni network – My alumni network helped me grow Flat-Club quickly and globally, and the only thing I had to do was to reach out to them. I was shocked by how helpful others were even though I had never met them before. This is a real asset for a young startup.
- The school's support for start-ups – Some business schools already offer incubator programs which is a great help for growing a business. It provides help with administration, mentoring, funding, services and advice. For Flat-Club it also provided additional weight to our reputation when contacting other business schools.
- The percentage of classmates who started a business (check the career report) – This is simple advice – it’s much easier to become an entrepreneur when you have more entrepreneurs around you. When I first suggested the idea of starting my own venture and said no to the full time offers I had, some of my classmates looked at me as if I had drunk one beer too many in the school-pub. When I talked about it with my friends from Israel, the startup-nation, they asked: “can I invest?” these small points of extra support are very important, especially in the early stage when the uncertainly at it's highest.
How can MBA entrepreneurs make the most of business school?
The best advice I can give is to share your ideas and not to keep them to yourself as secret. Life is not like the Social Network movie -- no one will steal your idea. Eventually, if it’s a good idea, someone will copy you, so it’s best to get the feedback now and start preparing for it by creating defensible differentiators. The feedback I got from faculty, classmates from all over the world, and alumni with wide experience was one of the most valuable parts of my MBA.
How did you manage to balance running a startup with getting your MBA?
I did a 2 year program. The first was very intense, but the second was actually much more relaxed, this gave me the opportunity to put a lot of time in starting Flat-Club. Some of my friends spent 3 months travelling, others were working already, or doing their 2nd, 3rd or even 5th internship, so I started a business. On top of this my first son was born as well!
How did you choose which people to work with at Flat Club?
I only choose people who are passionate about the concept! We have an excellent team of 15 from 12 nationalities, all very talented, smart, hands-on, and if possible I prefer others with experience in running or starting a business – they know best the challenges of changing the world without any resources...
What should MBA interns look for in a room rental?
The number one priority should be who to share it with! Expand your network by renting with or from other top MBA interns. Clearly price and location should work as well, but the most important part is to find new roommates and build a global network. I know of a good website for it...