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David Baraev

Building a global rental apartment marketplace for digital nomads

Oiko

Rent as a Digital Nomad easily

Early-Stage

Monthly Revenue

Visit Website

Built with

What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company?

I don't come from a Software Engineering background - I graduated with a degree in Architecture and worked a few years designing buildings. I guess providing people with great experiences with the built environment has always been my passion - but the scale you get to work with as an architect is relatively small (you are just designing a small number of buildings in your whole career).

At the same time, Nikita (my cofounder) and I were moving to different cities and countries to study and work - and never really stayed in one place for more than a year. And we loved it! However, everywhere we would go, we'd always have problems with renting - imagine trying to rent on your own in a foreign country, especially if it is a primary English-speaking one.

And once COVID hit and everyone started to work from home, we noticed quite a few people around us becoming Digital Nomads. Many would move to a cheaper, further part of a city or a more southern town on a coast within the same country. And the rest constantly complained that living in a major city (like London) doesn't make sense anymore considering the enormous living costs.

And this was the insight that created Oiko - many people want to be Digital Nomads but are sort of "scared" of the unknown - going to different countries where you don't know anyone and where & how to rent. So we are bringing together Digital Nomads and realtors that want to rent to them on our platform and are building a social network around it - so that you'll always have fellow users to meet wherever you go.

What no code tools did you use to build Oiko, and what purpose did each play in the final product? What were the initial costs to get Oiko off the ground?

Here are all the monthly subscriptions we are paying to maintain Oiko:

$99 Glide Pro Plan (2 apps, 1 for users, 1 for realtors)

$11 Make/Integromat (automation with all mentioned services)

$10 Tilda (landing page)

$20 Short.io (short links + analytics)

$10 ClickSend SMS balance (notifications)

$40 Snovio (email automation)

$20 Hubspot (email marketing)

$25 Google (@oikoliving.com emails)

We also paid around $1500 in legal fees for T&Cs and incorporation

What was the process of building your product from idea to launching?

I got the UK Startup Visa at the end of February and moved to London to build the product, but the Russian-Ukrainian war broke out. Nikita and I temporarily abandoned the development. We turned our first MVP into a platform for Ukrainian refugees to find housing in the UK and EU (help.oikoliving.com), which we rolled out in the first weeks of the war. We don't know the exact number of people who got to find shelter via our platform, but there were thousands registered and hundreds of thousands of visitors. We are still receiving emails and messages thanking us.

At the same time, the cost of living crisis in London became evident, and we couldn't find anywhere to rent for fair prices. So we said - why don't we try out how it feels to be a Digital Nomad without our product - and moved to Turkey for a few months. We worked hard, saved a lot of money & had a great time. And if we had our product up and running - it would have been much more seamless and relaxing.

So now we are back in London, thinking - where should we move to next?

How do you attract customers?

Since we are building a two-sided marketplace, we are focused on attracting realtors now - Nikita is doing it by cold-emailing. Currently, he is targeting Prague - we'll have a few hundred apartments there ASAP.

I am working on attracting tenants by growing our Twitter account, and soon we'll start launching ads.

What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building Oiko?

Precisely what is mentioned above - it is always a chicken & egg problem with marketplaces. How do you convince property managers when there are only a few users and vice-versa?

What's your advice for non-technical people who want to start a company?

I'd say that no matter what kind of coding you use, nocode, lowcode or proper coding, the way data works is the same.

What are your future plans for Oiko?

We want to bootstrap the whole way and be a 100% remote, 100% asynchronous and 100% automated company.

How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship?

It will be huge - most things in the 2030s will be made with nocode. We live in an exciting time - you can build something in your free time, advertise on Twitter for free and start making money.

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