Say you’re finally making the big move. What’s the best area to live in New York or London? Lithuanian neighborhood livability rating PlaceILive answers this question to almost 5000 people every day. The service is now available in New York, London, San Francisco, Chicago, and Berlin, allowing people who move within or to these cities to make more informed decisions, while property owners can access a quality-driven channel for selling or renting their properties. There are already 150,000 monthly users and more than 2 million properties listed in the servide. The founders still plan to add one more big city, so if you like the service, you can vote for it here.
Place I live processes open data provided by city municipalities and constructs a life quality index (LQI) for each property. The index consists of seven categories, encompassing various aspects of livability – from crime levels to demographics of neighborhood inhabitants. The Life Quality Index API is included in New York’s upcoming real estate apps. The infographic below explains the index in more detail.
It’s a data-driven business. The current business model earns revenue by providing real estate companies with neatly visualized data and livability index on their current and potential properties. Place I live founder Sarunas Legeckas explains that this model helps them sustain revenue, while developing the user-oriented property rental platform:
“Currently we are like IMDb for real estate but with more data. You can see photos of real estate, assess its livability at a glance and tell what other people think of the neighborhood. However, you cannot yet contact the owner to buy or rent an object yet. We just launched the beta 2 months ago and are still working on adding this function, using insights from user interviews that we conduct with people coming to our site.”
In two months the company will release a new service targeting people moving to a city or within a city and help them make more informed decisions about their future homes. Despite charging property owners for listings, Place I live will continue to provide honest neighbourhood rating. This proposition should attract higher quality property owners who are looking for a trustworthy approval of their house or apartment, while users are mostly people who value livability.
The 5 founders of Place I live have a lot of diverse experience in online business. CEO Sarunas Legeckas has 5 years experience at Barclays bank, CTO Mindaugas Kiznis was a senior architect at world’s biggest IT company Computer Science Corporation. CMO Derk Steemers recently joined the team 4 months ago after finding them on AngelList. He relocated to Lithuania within 2 weeks and started active marketing activities. Mantas Ratomskis and Jokubas Neciunas have programming ans startup experience. They also have a team of freelancers helping with specific tasks.
Anthony Townsend, American researcher on smart cities and knowledge ecosystems, author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia is supportive to the five Lithuanians and has even joined their advisory board. Reading Anthony’s book had largely inspired Sarunas to venture into smart city market, while seeing his product convinced Anthony to become team’s adviser. His comment was: “Guys, you can actually reinvent the smart city.” Now Anthony is helping the team with their livability index and links to American research and civic hacking community. Place I Live has an open invitation from MIT to come over and work on their index for several weeks.
The team has tested their concept in Lithuania with Kurgyvenu.lt, which graduated from Startup Highway accelerator in 2012. The site is still operating under its old brand, but links to its global peer PlaceILive.com. Funded by Startup Highway, Practica Capital and retained earnings,
Place I live is currently raising a follow-up round of $600,000 with soft commitment of $300,000 from previous backers.
Place I live is not alone in livability-based real estate suggestion business. Streetadvisor and Areavibes offer a similar service in the US, while Walkscore provides additional focus on your commuting time and distance. There are also services like Estonian startup-focused Teleport providing more general guidance across many cities globally.
Sarunas sees the key advantage of Place I live in its scientifically-grounded livability index and good relationships with real estate companies. He also does not see services focused on one aspect of life quality as competitors but possibly even complements: “Walkscore tells you how long it will take you to get to your job and morning workout in nearby park. We tell you who are the people you will meet on your way and how likely you are to be robbed in that nearby park”, he explains.