London-based startup Perchpeek used to call itself the “Tinder for renters”, offering a platform to help people find their ideal property.
Then, realising a lot of its client base were people moving to another country, Perchpeek pivoted to become a relocation service — with an app helping people to organise housing, admin, guarantors and offering support on anything else relocation related.
“Just after, March lockdowns hit, and we thought we’d probably made the biggest mistake ever — people couldn’t even leave their homes, let alone move country,” explains Paul Bennett, Perchpeek’s founder.
Bennett was wrong — the possibilities of remote work opened up by the pandemic meant the company saw a boom in interest, with people realising they could now work from anywhere.
Perchpeek helped 1,000 people to relocate in 2020 and the startup’s just secured £2m in new funding from investors, led by growth fund Episode 1.
The relocation market was valued at $29bn in 2017 and is set to grow at 3.3% by 2024, with remote work meaning more and more people are considering working abroad.
Other relocation services tend to be based on localised offices, where an expert in a region helps people move, and not tech based — though there are competitors like Benivo and Velocity in the US.
"Traditional "expat" solutions are far too localised and expensive to support the new cadre of relocator,” says Damian Lane, partner at Episode 1 who invested in Perchpeek’s latest round.
Perchpeek is currently present in 47 countries and Bennett says it’ll take its clients’ lead as to where it goes next, based on their needs.
“I think we moved someone from the Gaza Strip to Berlin last week, we’ve moved people from Trinidad and Tobago — all sorts of places,” says Bennett. The US is the company’s biggest market, particularly internal migration between states.
Germany is the biggest market in Europe, which Bennett says is down to its strong economy and relatively welcoming immigration policies.
“And in terms of where people are moving from, the biggest countries are India and Brazil, you’d be surprised at how big the Brazilian diaspora in Ireland is!”
Bennett says there are two groups of people moving around at present: tech workers, as companies use the offer of flexible working to improve their employee retention, and industries like pharmaceuticals and laboratory work, where people need to relocate to work in a specific place.
The company will use the £2m to expand into more regions, as well as perfecting the app itself, which still involves some human input, whilst parts of it rely on artificial intelligence.
Bennett is convinced that the relocation market will continue to grow — particularly after companies continue to announce only partial returns to offices, as Unilever did this week, meaning employees are freed up on their choice of where to live.
“I think over the next 10 years we’ll see a lot more people migrating,” he says. “Companies are becoming more flexible, countries becoming more flexible, and workers becoming more flexible too.”