Why S’pore Co-Living Startup Hmlet Pivoted To Offer Furniture Subscription, Interior Design

Singapore-based startup Hmlet was born out of a desire for accommodation that was flexible and convenient.

In an interview with Vulcan Post, Yoan Kamalski, CEO and founder of Hmlet, said that in its initial years of operations, the startup focused on a centralised model of leasing buildings.

The co-living operator used to directly rent, renovate, and operate properties.

In just five years of operations, the startup expanded to more than 100 locations across Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.

Hmlet offers customers short-term stays in the Hmlet Boutique properties starting from six nights, or longer-term living, usually with a minimum three-month stay, in Hmlet Listed or original properties.

hmlet co-living startup pivoting
Hmlet Chay Yan Street / Image Credit: Hmlet

According to the Hmlet website, prices range from S$1,000 a month for a ‘Pocket Room’ — Hmlet’s most economical — at Upper Circular Road, to S$5,990 a month for a full two-bedroom apartment at One North.

The draw of these co-living spaces are their communities as Hmlet original residences are “custom-built to enhance conversation and connection.”

Residents are also treated to community exclusive events, from yoga lessons to cooking classes.

hmlet community event
Hmlet Community Event / Image Credit: Hmlet via Facebook

However, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to the rise of lockdowns and safe distancing measures. Thus, co-living becomes a safety concern.

Though this has proven to be a challenge for Hmlet, Yoan is more inclined to focus on the opportunities brought about by Covid-19.

The 30-year-old shared that the pandemic has accelerated digitisation, and the startup’s pivot to a property and lifestyle platform “couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Evolving Into An All-Purpose Property And Lifestyle Platform

Hmlet has recently introduced an all-purpose platform that provides features like online transactions, virtual viewings and YouTube walkthroughs.

Earlier in June, the startup invested in property-listing tech amid a pivot towards becoming more asset-light.

Instead of renting and renovating properties, landlords are now able to list their properties on Hmlet Listed — automating many routine tasks, and adding features like 3D photography Virtual Reality tours.

hmlet furniture
Image Credit: Hmlet

The startup has also launched Hmlet Furniture, a furniture subscription service that offers over 100 items for rent, with the option to return, swap or buy out the furniture.

Another new feature, Hmlet Interiors, is an online interior design service offering various packages ranging from pocket-friendly to full service brief-to-build.

The launch of Hmlet Listed also helps developers to reach out to end users directly and provides an avenue for a whole range of services including a digitised and seamless property viewing experience.

hmlet interiors
Image Credit: Hmlet

These developments come at a time when there are now greater expectations for properties to accommodate working needs, while maintaining a balance between leisure and work.

It has always been a dream to build an ecosystem of services, and for the end user to have a centralised marketplace to purchase on-demand products and services like design, furniture and apartments to stay in.

– Yoan Kamalski, CEO and co-founder of Hmlet

He added that Hmlet is designing its new properties with this in mind, while giving consumers greater customisation abilities through its new platforms.

By utilising digitalisation, data and analytics, they seek to better understand what members want and enhance their offerings accordingly.

Expansion Into Malaysia And Thailand

Hmlet has recently been named by LinkedIn as one of the top 10 startups in Singapore that have remained resilient during this pandemic, as it continues to attract investment, employees and attention.

In July, Hmlet raised US$40 million (S$54.8 million) in a Series B round.

In a media statement, the startup said it would use the funds to grow across gateway cities in Asia.

As part of its new direction this year, Hmlet is expanding its services to Malaysia and Thailand.

According to Yoan, the startup has seen an influx of property developers, operators and owners in Thailand and Malaysia who are interested in partnering with Hmlet.

“The goal of Hmlet’s new product lines is to change the way people live for the better — and so we’re continuously looking for ways to innovate and reimagine our offerings to add value to our members, landlords and partners,” said Yoan.

Featured Image Credit: Lifestyle Asia and Hmlet

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