In this week’s Member in Focus, we talk to Harry Panter, Co-Founder and CEO of Housr, about what they do, why, and how sustainability has played an important role in their business.
First off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Housr, what it is you do, and how you got started?
When me and Ben came out of first year, there was a severe lack of guidance and support for going into a private rental. From finding flatmates to finding the perfect home, it was very complex and there wasn’t a singular platform that could deal with everything.
The process was disjointed and heavily set against the student; it caused overwhelming stress and pressure. It’s a problem that we went through, and Housr is a solution we are building; by students, for students.
Finding a home should be as easy as ordering an Uber; 2 clicks and you’re sorted. We will ensure this is the case for students across the country who are heading into the private rental market, and we are nearly there with our recent launch!
Currently, the process of student housing is disjointed, overwhelming and very expensive for homeowners and letting agents. The student-landlord relationship has also been deteriorating for a number of years; a trend which was exacerbated by the pandemic.
Housr centralizes all processes under one roof and holds the students’ hand, by guiding them through the student housing process, from finding flatmates to finding their perfect home and managing everything in between such as contract signing, bill setup, maintenance issues and that all-important landlord relationship.
For the landlord and letting agent, we automate a lot of the administrative processes and streamline the way they work, all whilst drastically cheapening housing advertisement costs!
Student housing and sustainability don’t really seem connected; when did you first start considering how sustainable you are as a business?
I actually feel the two are more interconnected than one might first think; first of all student housing is like any type of housing, there is a footprint that needs to be reduced and one which can be reduced with the help of partners like Play it Green.
However, what makes student housing even more interconnected with sustainability, is the notion that tomorrow’s leaders and change-makers are the ones inhabiting the property.
Being educated at the level our students are brings with it a strong sense of know-how and understanding of politics and how the world works. As a result, a great number of students across the UK are environmentally conscious and want to do better for the world they live in.
We wanted to help facilitate tomorrow’s leaders by being today’s leaders and giving them the chance to directly offset their carbon footprint through partnering with Play it Green but also give the homeowners the chance to offer sustainable housing.
We first started thinking about the notion of sustainability ever since being students ourselves. A lot of our team including our co-founders were exposed (through reading certain degrees) to the idea of climate change and the notion of sustainability; thus far it was a given we would do our bit in helping the current situation, in any way we can.
What made you choose a Climate Positive Workforce with Play it Green?
It was a way to immediately see the impact and begin a positive change. Play it Green are able to set everything up very quickly with little work on our end. It was a no brainer who we would go with.
Have you enjoyed it so far? What do your staff think?
It has been a big eye-opener and all our staff are enjoying the weekly tips.
As a business that in part caters to university students, do you think young people now expect businesses to be taking their environmental and social impact seriously?
I really think they do. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and there is a real sense of wanting to change the world for the better amongst this generation. Many start-ups and ideas are coming out of this notion, from sustainable student housing all the way to sustainable clothing alternatives.
Young people are becoming ever more passionate and with growing education rates, more people are becoming more aware of the real negative impact of climate change and societal norms. With greater education becomes greater awareness and realisation of the impacts that are occurring, thus a new wave of wanting to help and wanting to do good is present.
Do you have plans to continue your sustainability journey, or even reach Net Zero?
Yes, we hope to partner further with Play it Green and begin helping agents and landlords offset their property portfolio’s carbon footprint and allow for as many sustainable homes across the country as possible!
What does the future hold more generally for Housr? Any big plans in the works?
We are currently gearing up for the peak of student housing which starts around September time, but right now we are mainly focused on our exciting seed round investment raise that will allow to us grow rapidly across the UK and help any more thousands of students on their student housing journey!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As a team led by young founders, it would be great to create a young founders forum or event with sustainability and see how we as young leaders to set an example for both younger and older generations, by stepping up to the plate and ensuring that we lead a sustainable life but also put measures in place to better protect this generation and many more to comes’ future.
As a Play it Green business member, Housr is reducing their footprint with weekly tips and through our Net Zero Framework, planting trees to balance the carbon emissions of its entire workforce, and regiving 10% to their chosen charity, Mind, to raise awareness of and support those struggling with their mental health.
You can visit the Housr Livings Forest Garden here.
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