From College Dorm To Global Co-Living Enterprise: rent24’s Story

rent24 is in the process of becoming a full-service co-living provider, starting with a 6-floor coworking and co-living campus in Hamburg
  • Four years after its inception, German coworking and co-living provider rent24 now operates 55 locations worldwide.
  • rent24 aims to become a full-service co-living provider by combining workspace with living concepts, including fitness studios and dining amenities.
  • Co-living spaces are rapidly growing in popularity, and rent24 is in the process of opening a six storey coworking and co-living campus in Hamburg.

Last year, German coworking and co-living provider, rent24, made waves in the flexible workspace industry by announcing ambitious plans to rapidly expand its European coworking footprint.

At the time, rent24 had 45 locations, and had just made its UK debut by taking a majority stake in London-based coworking provider, The Brew. This acquisition was set to be the starting point for rent24’s plans to open a further 45 coworking spaces in the UK and Ireland over the next three years.

The brand also stated plans to expand internationally too, with ambitions to open more than 185 active locations worldwide by 2020, making it one of the largest international communities of businesses and freelancers.

Six months on, how are rent24’s plans progressing?

Today rent24 operates 55 locations worldwide, across Germany, UK, Serbia, Netherlands, Ukraine, Croatia, Russia, Israel and the US. Founded just 4 years ago, rent24 has amassed a considerable amount of space for its coworking and co-living concept, a feat that began in 2015 with CEO and founder Robert Bukvic.

A former professional basketball player and a serial entrepreneur, Bukvic set out “to take coworking to a new level” by combining coworking’s trademark brand of community with the atmosphere of “a warm living room”, which eventually led to rent24’s coworking and co-living model.

“In the three years since its existence, rent24 has expanded the concepts of coworking and co-living by combining work, leisure and entertainment,” says Bukvic, whose first experience of co-living came from the humble college dorm, while attending Daytona State College in the US.

This was essentially the precursor for rent24, an idea which Bukvic began developing many years later, after his return to Berlin.

First though, Bukvic focused on the coworking side of the business.

While running two businesses in Berlin, and GetDeal GmbH, Bukvic rented their free office space to other freelancers and project teams to create additional value. It wasn’t long before Bukvic recognized the synergies that it created within the space. It was after Bukvic agreed to rent a large office space that he decided to focus entirely on coworking, and founded rent24 in 2015.

As for the co-living side, rent24 aims to become a full-service provider by combining workspace with living concepts, including fitness studios and dining amenities.

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“Nevertheless, not all locations are suitable for both coworking and coliving,” says Bukvic. “Our team assesses potential locations carefully according to previously defined criteria. We are currently planning and operating six co-living locations, and more are on the way.”

The huge growth and proliferation of coworking is well documented. But what of co-living?

US-based residential architect firm KTGY claims that co-living housing models “are rapidly growing in popularity” in response to increasing demand for more affordable living spaces, particularly as the amount of affordable housing needed “cannot be built fast enough”.

This is a key driver but for Bukvic, it’s also about the rise of digitization — although not in the way you might think.

Over-reliance and usage of digital media is actually “increasing the need to connect offline”, suggesting that co-living spaces can fulfil many of the most important attributes that have emerged from the coworking revolution: social, community-focused environments that help people create meaningful relationships and beat loneliness and isolation.

Of course, shared college-style living arrangements aren’t to everyone’s liking. But this model certainly has its fans, as Bukvic is discovering.

“We are observing a high demand for our co-living products, with high occupancy rates. We believe that the global co-living market will continue to grow and, as a company, we will continue with the expansion of our coliving locations throughout 2019 and beyond.”

Currently, rent24 is in the process of opening a six storey coworking and co-living campus in Hamburg, which is set to become one of the largest of its kind in Germany.

It’s a pretty impressive feat for such a young company. Part of the reason for its success is that rent24 doesn’t act alone, and seeks partnerships to enable the brand to cross into new sectors.

rent24 has clocked up 500 strategic partner brands, such as insurance company Allianz, which partnered with rent24 to open The Cube, its first “InsurTech Hub” in Berlin.

Of course, local partnerships — such as rent24’s linkup with The Brew in London — also help the brand to cross borders and expand into new locations and different cultures.

“Partnering with existing operators has provided us with valuable local expertise, and we want to continue growing together.”

Looking ahead, rent24 has no plans to slow down, and expects to announce more new locations soon.

“We wish to strengthen our presence in the US and add new continents to our portfolio,” added Bukvic. “We look forward to consolidating our position by adding to our existing locations as well as expanding to new regions.”

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