This is what disruption looks like

flatfair was founded in 2016, and I’ve been working with them ever since. When I see what this young business has achieved so far, I recognise (and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me saying that) true disruption at the heart. When we talk about disruption, what is it we mean though? It’s a phrase oft used, but what does it actually look like?  Back in 2014, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen said something that strikes me now as much as it did then: “Disruption is, at its core, a really powerful idea. But everyone hijacks the idea to do whatever they want now”. In his view, many people were chasing an “immediate sense of success” and missing the bigger picture.

flatfair - disrupting the UK lettings market

No one can disagree with this fact: that the UK residential letting market is broken, and in many ways. Certainly when it comes to tenancy deposits - a hotly debated topic in recent months - the current model leaves individuals and families open to hardship, it causes great anxiety, and it squeezes financial freedom. It makes sense then, to see an emergence of deposit-free schemes. Many claim to be disruptors - but are they?

flatfair are now trading in hundreds of letting branches across the UK, including the largest independent lettings agency Spicerhaart. They’re the fastest growing company in the tenancy deposit alternative space, boasting a unique product that comes without the burdens and caveats of a regulated insurance product, whilst offering a broad spectrum of benefits to tenants, landlords and agents. Sounds like a hard feat, doesn’t it?

What makes flatfair special is that they understand the problems of the tenancy deposit model to their core. That is, not simply the cost of a deposit, but the systems and long-standing beliefs that make them such a cumbersome model to unpack and improve - indeed, to disrupt. But with flatfair’s administrative expertise, robust partnerships and - perhaps most importantly - it’s use of leading technology, disruption is happening.

The key pillars of disruption - be BOLD

There are some key components that true disruption can’t be without, and in flatfair, I see them clearly:

Betterment

This is the dedication to a human problem. That dedication investigates, scrutinises and comes to a better understanding than anyone else. Without understanding and caring about the problem, disruption can’t take place. Something always gets missed unless you are fully immersed.

Objective

The problems that need to be fixed are often complex and always multifaceted. Disruption needs a north star to align its pioneers, and that comes in the form of a vision. This must hold deep meaning for the team to follow, and it must be built to withstand the test of time. For flatfair, the vision to create financial freedom in the UK lettings market is underpinned by values centered around affordability, accessibility, transparency and fairness.

Leadership

The big problem I’ve seen in many of the deposit alternatives on the market is that they are too basic. Either they have not grasped the full extent of the problem, they are not driven by a vision, or (probably, because this is one of the hardest things to build) they do not possess the rich breadth of expertise necessary to develop a truly disruptive product.

flatfair has equipped itself with a team whose experience ranges from banking, all the way through to gaming and tech. The result is a product that is able to address all parts of the problem, not just the obvious ones.

Dedication

Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in good company”. To disrupt, businesses must resist the temptation to grow through any partnership. A partner who shares your vision and values, who emphathises and who is an expert in their field is one who will stand with you.

By partnering with only credible partners, and building its entire model around tenant reputability, flatfair is helping to isolate rogue businesses and protecting tenants and landlords alike.

True disruption, in a nutshell

There’s so much more to be said about flatfair and the topic of disruption. We’ve certainly unpicked it a little. Consider this though, whether you are a business or a customer, scrutinise any claim of ‘disruptiveness’ before buying into the story. The last thing anyone needs is a generation of business who follows the status quo under the guise of disruption. Look to companies like flatfair, who have disruption at their very core, and set the bar high.