A New Way Of Living: Interview With Riccardo Tessaro of Gravity Co-Living

Gravity Co-Living is on a mission to improve the lives of today’s rental generation globally, through a community-centred, effortless, and borderless living experience. Gravity removes the pain points of renting by creating a global consumer first renting model as more millennials seek experiences and convenience over ownership, moving towards the sharing economy.

Gravity plans to disrupt the renting industry by servicing the entire renting lifecycle that promotes healthier, happier, and more meaningful lifestyles. The co-living company has four properties across London, including two in Camden, one in Finsbury Park and another in Hounslow.

Who Is Gravity Co-Living And Who Are The Brains Behind It?

I founded the company along with Susanna Rock in late 2017. Before founding Gravity, we had both had extensive experience working within real-estate and investment. In that time, we both became passionate about the potential of property-as-a-service, seeing the boom of the co-working and student accommodation market. We are now a team of 8 who has been instrumental in developing the brand, the community and the portfolio.

What Was Your Inspiration To Start The Business?

Susanna and I have experienced the drawbacks of work relocation. We identified a vital gap in the market as the way young professionals live, work and engage has changed significantly over the past decade, and accommodation providers globally are stuck in the past. Professionals nowadays demand flexible, all-inclusive, experience-driven accommodation solutions. It represents a pivotal shift of power to the tenant, giving them more freedom, time and support to focus on what matters to them. Gravity gives the ability to move from city to city without being stuck in a long-term contract with landlords or utility providers. It’s a hassle-free life already set up for you. 

How Does Co-Living With Gravity Work?

It’s straightforward: members can apply for a living membership via our website within seconds, and our community managers take care of the rest. Members can move in on the same day and have all-inclusive contracts with highly flexible lease terms ranging from 1 month to 12 months. With the help of automation and technology, our community managers eliminate the pain points of traditional renting, from day-to-day maintenance, cleaning, laundry, meal-planning, events and activities around wellbeing, social and growth (all available on a dedicated app). 

What Makes You Different To Your Competitors?

First of all, it’s all about data-driven community curation. We continuously collect data on our members to curate the buildings, community, events and partnerships based on each customer’s needs. For example, our data has shown a sharp trend in membership growth within the entrepreneur and self-employed demographic. Therefore, we have partnered with VC’s, start-up incubators, educational partners and global tech brands for enablement and mentorship, saving founders over £130,000 in business costs. 

Secondly, we believe the home is important, but so is leaving it. Instead of capitalising on different hospitality verticals by creating self-contained communities, we boost local economic growth by working closely with small businesses. We have over 700 local and national partnerships for members to integrate themselves into a new city. 

I believe these are the reasons behind Gravity having one of the highest NPS scores in the industry and being voted within the top 4 co-living operators globally in the Co-Living Awards. 

How Has The Way People Live And Work Affected Your Business?

We have seen massive demand for co-living accelerated by lock-down loneliness and the need for flexible, multi-functional homes. Over the past year, Gravity has seen 450% YoY growth and opened three new sites. Currently, accommodation isn’t customer-centric, with a study from RIBA discovering that nearly 70% of respondents believed a better-designed home would increase their happiness while working remotely. We replace that sense of community you get from going into the office and provide a healthy space for innovation, staying away from the toxic hustle hard culture.

How Do You Go About Identifying Properties To Use And How Do You Find The Properties You Subsequently Do?

We typically work directly with institutional landlords, real estate pe funds, developers and family offices. The critical element of our due diligence process is our know-how of the real estate market. Still, we also use a predictive analytic and AI platform called Gleensite to support our thesis and establish pricing/demand dynamics.

In Such A Competitive Market, How Do You Raise Capital And What Challenges Do You Face?

We have raised £2m in venture funding so far. The majority of this was during the pandemic, showing the resilience of our business model during a challenging macroeconomic environment. We aim to close a new equity round by August, which is currently 50% subscribed.

Our challenge was to identify the right investors to approach as our business sits between real estate, lifestyle and technology, and most investors have rigorous investment mandates.

How Do You Overcome Those Challenges?

We overcame the challenge by being persistent, narrowing our target investors list, and flexibly negotiating with investors to reach mutually attractive terms.

What Do You See As The Biggest Challenge For Gravity Co-Living In The Next Few Years?

The biggest challenge I see is scaling to keep up with the accelerating demand for co-living accommodation. We predict that this will only accelerate further post-pandemic. 

What Are Gravity Co-Living’s Plans For The Future?

We aim to become the preferred partner for institutional real estate investors looking to enter the co-living arena in high-density urban centres globally with a phased approach in Europe, South East Asia and North America, respectively. Next year, we will also launch our social membership in London and continue to grow our borderless community of talent in major business cities globally.