E132 | Moving House With PerchPeek, the AI powered Relocation Agent
So many of us are waking up to the fact we no longer have to live where we work. COVID has shown us that we can be just as productive, if not more so, WFH. And Paul Bennett, co-founder and CEO of PerchPeek, the AI-powered relocation agent, is cashing in on this realisation.
Prior to COVID, Paul and his co-founders set about trying to solve the problem of relocation, having suffered through the process themselves. They initially described their startup as the ‘Tinder for rental’, before pivoting the business in 2020, in response to the specific pain points many people experience when relocating.
“People tend to underestimate how many moving parts are involved in a relocation process from deciding the area, to finding your home, to shipping your stuff, to getting your transport, to settling in when you arrive, setting up your utility bills, council tax, bank account, finding friends, finding community.”
And so in this post-COVID, hybrid, closed offices, new normal world, if you’re considering relocation, perhaps you might want to draw on Paul and his colleagues’ expertise to get you to your dream location, and maybe without having to change jobs.
“I think what people love, and you’ll see this in our reviews, is people just love having one place to coordinate and be guided by the relocation experts through all of those different verticals of the relocation.”
This is a fantastic conversation. We talk about everything from what’s going to happen in the world of employee engagement, to office space and the implications of that. As well as some of the lessons that they’ve learned in their own business, and how and why they do unlimited holiday and various other perks.
We really enjoyed this conversation with Paul, we hope you will too.
On today’s podcast:
- The genesis of PerchPeek
- Pivoting the business
- Relocating via PerchPeek
- The issues of remote working
- Managing unlimited holiday
Ask anybody who’s ever been travelling, or spent time abroad for work, these are usually the most memorable periods of your life. And now there’s a company that can facilitate these moves, temporary or permanent relocations – PerchPeek.
Paul Bennett is co-founder and CEO of PerchPeek, a company providing an end-to-end relocation service for a new generation of relocators – those who can work from anywhere – as well as helping some of the world’s top companies attract and retain top talent.
Prior to founding PerchPeek in 2018, Paul was a business development executive at Amazon, but came together with his two co-founders, Oliver Markham and Dr Aasis (Ace) Vinayak, when they realised how painful relocating can be. Their combined experience in business development, machine learning and real estate led them to create a UK property marketplace, dubbed ‘Tinder for renting’.
However in 2020, in response to the ongoing pandemic, they pivoted the business to tackle the specific pain points many people experience when relocating.
“We basically help people move around the world. So whether you’re moving from Sydney to Seattle to Singapore, we guide you through that entire journey and make sure that you get there, your stuff gets there, your family gets there and gets settled in.”
Almost every business has had to pivot somewhat due to the events of the last year, and PerchPeek has been no different. They started in the relocation space as the ‘Tinder for property’, but having listened to their customers and understanding their pain points in the pandemic, PerchPeek has developed into a global relocation business.
“But what an awesome space to be in, it’s so fun helping people relocate around the world, you learn so much about different cultures, [we’re] helping people, you know, helping someone move to Jordan at the moment. It’s just incredible.”
Prior to 2020, they were a relocation platform, but now, people are realising that they can live anywhere and still do their same job.
“Most people have been working remotely for almost a year now, as that has become the norm, people are starting to realise, wow, I could physically do my work from anywhere in the world.”
And while there’s not been a mass exodus from urban locations, there is definitely a growing groundswell of people seeking a better locale that isn’t city centre.
“Now, for the first time, lots of people are going, ‘Oh, yeah, I can maybe go live in the mountains or go live in the south of France or whatever.”
Before all this, says Paul, a lot of companies were nervous about encouraging employee mobility because of the cost involved. But with so many people saying they don’t want to go back to 5 days in the office and companies coming out and saying they won’t make people go back, it’s opening the world up a lot more.
So how do Paul and his team help people relocate? Isn’t most of what they do for people available, for free, on the internet?
“What we’re trying to do, within our platform, is bring in as much useful information about the place that you’re moving to, i.e. Sydney. So we’ll use API’s to bring in information about area guides, restaurants in the area, bars in the area, then we’ll tally that with our network of relocation specialists.”
They go beyond what you can Google and pair you up with a specialist in the area you’re relocating to, to give you an insider’s guide. From finding schools for your kids, to getting you a car, setting you up with a bank account, dealing with any bureaucracy. There are so many verticals they can help with. And while it may come at a cost, it means that your relocation all falls under one, stress-free umbrella.
“You’ll probably have a very fragmented journey: a little bit of an Australian real estate platform, you’ll probably be phoning up that friend of a friend, or that former client who’s in Sydney. You’ll be in Reddit threads trying to discover stuff. And we’re just trying to create one platform that can guide you through pretty much anything you can imagine within the relocation process.”
Now that we’ve all spent a year near enough remote working, PerchPeek will pay for co-working for their employees who want to, or need to, work in an office, so they have a good place to work from. They’re planning on creating good quality company retreats to enable quality interaction, but they’re definitely not going to mandate that people come into the office five days a week.
“We’re not even going to ask them to come in one to two days a week, it will be very much focused on, ‘we have this specific social problem that we think will be better if we’re all in agreement together’.”
There have been numerous studies in the US that show over 20 million people want to relocate, now they’ve had this location freedom. And PerchPeek have been going around banging the drum to companies saying: “Look, you should support this as a company. This is good for economies, this is good culturally when there’s migration.”
The issues of remote working
The issue most companies have is paying people a San Francisco wage when they live somewhere much cheaper, i.e. Bali.
“You might not like your hour commute, but it does mean you get a London salary. Should you get even less if you lived in Bali? Because your cost of living is lower?”
Lots of workplace benefits centre around being in the office, i.e. beer trolley, or ping pong tables, but if you aren’t in the office, or you want to focus on the wider desires of people, rather than just those who go into the office each day, then supporting people to relocate to different locations could be considered a benefit.
One benefit you get at PerchPeek is unlimited holiday.
“The managers who take lots of holidays have teams that take lots of holidays. The teams tend to match the manager. So you’ve got to make sure that the manager leads by example.”