Nick and Vince, co-founders of rent-to-own platform Jrny, shared the story behind starting their company and their experience as part of Tenity's Batch 10 incubation program. After completing the incubation program, Tenity participated in their pre-seed round together with other VCs & angels.
They founded Jrny after experiencing first hand how difficult it is to save enough for a mortgage deposit despite earning a stable income.
Nick: Jrny is the result of a real issue we came across trying to buy our first home. We were both house hunting at the same time. We didn't know we were in the same position until we met up one night and talked about our experience. Vince and I both have finance backgrounds, where we were fortunate to make a decent wage, but we still struggled to save enough for a home deposit, despite stable incomes. Property prices just kept rising much faster than wages.
Vince: Nick and I discussed our experiences one night and realised this issue wasn't unique to us. Younger people struggle to get on the property ladder without family support. That's what motivated us to create Jrny.
Nick: The company was founded to address the ever growing problem of housing affordability. It works in three steps: a customer chooses their dream home, contributes 2% towards the purchase price and builds up 1% equity in the home each year until they have a 10% deposit.
The customer gets to lock in their dream home immediately while they're still a renter, and gradually build up the equity that they require to buy it outright.
Jrny is a platform that sits between aspiring homeowners and institutional investors who are looking for exposure to the rental market in the UK. We're giving the institutions long-term cash flows that are linked to inflation, and the customers have a path towards home ownership. This creates a novel financial product where all stakeholders are able to benefit from an aligned incentive.
We've had a lot of interest from institutional investors to be able to deliver our product to their customers, who are particularly interested in being able to get scalable exposure to the single family rentals market through us.
Nick: After many discussions, we decided to leave our jobs in the summer of 2022 to focus fully on Jrny. Validating with early customers was so important - hearing their stories and enthusiasm gave us confidence that we were solving a real problem. We initially built a scrappy landing page where hundreds of interested customers signed up, although we didn’t have a marketing budget. From there it was non-stop work to get the company off the ground.
Vince: In terms of what we do and what our products and services are, investors and sometimes customers have this misconception that we're catering for bad credit individuals. While what we are actually doing is addressing the problem of people with a stable income but struggling to save enough for a down payment.
There are several solutions in the market that try to tackle this home ownership problem, such as second charge mortgages (meaning you get a traditional mortgage, and then on top of the traditional mortgage, you get another mortgage to bridge the deposit gap) - but it's not enough - it hasn't moved the needle. It's clear that new solutions are needed that create win-win situations for all stakeholders involved.
Nick: The current state of play of the real estate sector is that a mortgage just isn't affordable for most people. It's becoming a generational issue where this generation and the next will be unable to purchase their own home, as a result of many structural limitations in current housing models. This means that millions of young adults won’t benefit from the wealth creation that real estate has afforded their parents & grandparents.
We're already seeing ownership rates drop amongst the population, as wages continue to not keep up with growing house prices. We think we can provide a bridge between renting or owning and we think private capital can be used for a public good where all stakeholders can benefit.
Vince: Tenity helped us shape the way we run and build our company. We won the jury award for best pitch during Demo Day and became the first follow-on investment from Tenity's incubation fund.
During our masterclasses, there was a strong focus on the importance of moving quickly as a startup and selling before you build. Although we're still preparing to deliver our product, we speak with customers all the time and have them go through the application process to demonstrate strong purchase intent.
I really enjoyed getting to know my fellow batch mates and it was great to be in an environment where you could ideate off of other people. We all had the same mindset and just wanted to sprint towards the finish line.
Tenity is a very impressive platform, especially with the incubation fund, and has great corporate partners like UBS, SIX, Julius Baer, and so many more - this can be a real game changer for any startup in the finance space.
Nick: To the other founders in the program: Keep at it, take care of your mental health (therapy is seriously underrated) and leverage the resources and the network that Tenity has.
Nick & Vince met over 7 years ago in London and share a passion for real estate. Before founding Jrny, they jointly invested in rental properties to hone their experience investing and managing properties.
Nick Singh’s professional background is in investment banking doing leveraged finance focused on real estate, which he left to focus on building Jrny.
Vincent Huber’s professional background is in the investment space, specifically in private equity, where he looked at a wide variety of transactions both in real estate and outside of real estate.