The Silicon Review
“We offer spaces to call home, a community to thrive in and the facilities & services to enhance personal growth and wellbeing.”
It seems like the last couple of years have been the Vonder years. The rapidly growing global living and lifestyle brand has been one of the fresh and upcoming names in the hospitality and residential market for a while now. Vonder offers millennials such as young professionals, digital nomads, students and those from a similar background demographic, beautifully designed homes and a platform to embark on urban experiences within a vibrant global community. It’s all about a better, safer and hassle-free way of living in urban cities, whilst prioritizing a community feel and modern lifestyle. Despite that other big players in the industry recently went bankrupt, Vonder continues to scale-up rapidly with the increase of supply – all due to their unique model, business approach and profitable unit economics. They have even recently taken over some of The Collective’s portfolio in London.
With over 35 locations spread across key global cities such as London, Berlin, Munich, Leeds, Warsaw, and Dubai, and with entry into the US market fast approaching - The Silicon Review reached out to Tomer Bercoviz, CEO and co-founder of Vonder, to discuss how the company is revolutionizing the industry and their plans to stay at the forefront. Below is an excerpt.
Head to Head with Tomer Bercoviz, CEO & Co-Founder
Q. What’s your story? And tell us what motivated you to establish Vonder.
It all started with my passion for traveling, meeting new people, and exploring different cultures and places. I was a digital nomad myself, so the idea of Vonder came thanks to this first-hand experience and my personal need to feel at home and belong to a community - no matter where I was. It’s a very basic human desire, especially in big and fast-paced cities, in which you can feel quite lonely. This, together with the fact that I’ve always been a self-starter with an entrepreneurial mind and natural capabilities to seize opportunities - have enabled me to bring to life my vision for Vonder.
Q. Trust is one of the most important currencies of leadership that requires authenticity and consistency to maintain. What’s your take on this?
Vonder operates upon six core values – known as ‘The Vonder Six-Pack’, all of which highlight and define how we work and conduct ourselves as a company. The first value we established, is trust. For us, it is paramount that all our stakeholders, whether it’s the landlords we work with or our members, know themselves to be in safe hands. It’s about creating clear transparency for all. Also, Vonder believes in and aims for long-term relationships, meaning that authenticity and honesty are key to achieving this.
The same goes as for what I look for in business and employees. I prefer being surrounded by problem-solvers who I can trust to make rational independent decisions. I am a big advocate of seeing the bigger picture. I never micro-manage my employees – as this is the easiest way to fail. I believe everyone needs to find the ideal business environment to succeed and shine in. It is important to be confident in yourself, but always be open to different thoughts and perspectives. I am a big advocate of being aware of the input of others, as I believe it can be the most effective way to foster collaboration and creativity within a team. All of this, however, cannot be achieved unless you build the right team, wherein we are all accountable for each other.
Q. Where does Vonder stand at the moment relative to other participants in the industry?
We have carved out our own space in a competitive market with an ideal all-in-one product for both members and landlords. We offer spaces to call home, a community to thrive in and the facilities & services to enhance personal growth and wellbeing. There’s no real competitor who does exactly what we do. We are reinventing urban living, essentially taking it to a whole new level while emphasising the experience and hospitality parts of it. We believe in constantly updating and improving our product to remain market leaders and continue to be ahead of the curve.
Q. Vonder offers beautifully designed homes to emphasise experiences within a vibrant community. Splendid! How does the concept of all-in-one living fit here? Kindly share an overview.
Millennials are ultimately demanding more for their money - and for good reason. At Vonder, we see ourselves as the pioneers of all-in-one living. We coined this term to convey our collective rental approach that brings together all aspects of living. It’s about providing an effortless and hassle-free living experience that goes far beyond housing but focuses on a unique lifestyle. Our global locations are designed and operate in such a way that creates and fosters a vibrant and dynamic global community that prioritises connection and inclusiveness.
One of the foremost elements of our ‘all-in-one’ concept is about providing high-quality, beautifully designed, and self-contained apartments. Our apartments come fully furnished and stocked down to the last detail. In addition, state-of-the-art onsite amenities, such as gyms, co-working spaces, private cinemas, rooftop terraces and many more amentieies, are vital to the all-in-one living experience. These spaces benefit both the individual tenant and the community, as they are designed to bring people together – either organically or by organised activities.
However, ‘all-in-one living’ isn’t just about the prime design of our apartments. Another key feature we prioritise is having stellar, technology-driven services. Digital innovation is central to our business model and company ethos. The Vonder App has been expertly designed to enable Vonderers to seamlessly connect, socialize and network with each other, whilst simultaneously enhancing their living experience. With the tap of a finger, they can also enjoy our Rewards platform with exclusive value added services and perks, book amenities, explore events, open doors, report maintenance issues, schedule cleaning services, buy groceries, and so much more. We continue to invest a lot of our resources in advancing our technology. For example, we are currently working on upcoming projects such as introducing Vonder to the viritual world, alongside new technologies which combine the virtual and the physical. It’s very exciting times.
At Vonder, we believe in building a comprehensive digital experience - but without losing the “human touch” of in-person customer service. Our all-in-one properties place the members first and provide them with an onsite community and building managers who are always available to assist and advise, as well as concierge services for an ideal lifestyle experience. Events take place on a weekly basis, either online or in our shared spaces and members can keep themselves updated and reserve their spots through our Vonder app. Our events include unique dining experiences, language and cooking classes, lectures and talks, flea markets, handcrafted arts sessions, music lessons and karaoke nights, and many more events which prioritise bringing people together, with a focus on sustainability, inclusiveness and multiculturalism. We aim to enrich the lives of our Vonder members by offering them great opportunities to grow and connect with other like-minded individuals.
Q. What are your other focus areas?
ESG is our top priority. We’re currently building a green and sustainable ecosystem, which aims to reduce our carbon footprint and brings under-utilised assets back into the community. We introduce and encourage a new way of consuming sustainable, environmentally friendly products to our developers, landlords, tenants and, of course, our employees. For example, using reused furniture to furnish our apartments is a great way to reduce unnecessary manufacturing. We are also testing smart devices for better energy consumption, as well as trialling up and coming sustainable technologies that are being developed in the industry.
We’re now launching a tree planting initiative for every new contract or renewal. Same as we do for new locations we launch. We’re also focusing on providing healthier and more sustaianable environments and spaces to our members and staff by using wellbeing technologies . We, as a company, have this responsibility and our employees are on board. This year, each Vonder employee will volunteer in a nonprofit organization to show support and give back to the community.
Q. No doubt Vonder is charting new territories in this segment. Given how frequently circumstances change, what plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?
Vonder is continually planning and looking ahead to the future. Our rapid growth in Europe has fired our desire to expand into new markets. Recently, we have successfully launched in the Middle East and in additional cities in the UK and Europe such as Leeds and Munich. We are always seeking projects to enable us to grow and expand our global community and bring our concept to new cities and continents. The key is to remain flexible and being able to duplicate your product efficiently, because there’s a universal demand for our product and it only keeps growing.
The next big plan for Vonder will be entering the US market, with upcoming locations in Miami, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, and Atlanta. The US is the next logical step, given that the Vonder concept is the perfect fit for US market dynamics. This is owing to the significant number of urban-living Millennials wanting a better balance between home and work, along with a desire to feel connected to their local communities. We also plan on opening new loactions in the GCC, such as in Saudi and Quatar, Asian countries such as India, Singapore and Japan, as well as expanding European presence in counties like Portugal, Greece, Netherlands and Scandinvia. By the end of 2022, Vonder will offer over 6,000 apartments worldwide. These plans will continue to strengthen the growth of our international portfolio.
Q. Is there anything else you want us to highlight that we might have missed?
Vonder benefits landlords. We solve the problems many of them struggle with. Changing regulations, as well as the ongoing global pandemic, have resulted in many landlords finding it complex and inefficient to manage multiple or even single properties. Vonder solves problems such as increased vacancies, void costs and low returns. We transform under-utilized properties into trendy lifestyle hubs. We use the benefits of scale and technology to create a strong tenant demand while providing optimal gross to net value to the landlords we work with, as well as a much higher NOI and returns. The result is enhanced properties and an immediate increase in their value with a higher multiple of rent. An example of this process can be seen in our latest flagship in London, Vonder Wembley. We took over the building in a very early stage, of which was 6 floors of old offices and with great value-engineering, planning and design, we ‘Vonderised’ it in to a 15-story residential building with 312 apartments, to suit our brand’s needs. Receiving this great feedback and seeing the high demand for this project is the biggest satisfaction you could have. That’s why we’re working so hard at Vonder. This journey is not going to get any easier, but we’re ready – as always to take on more!
Tomer Bercoviz | CEO & Co-Founder
Tomer Bercoviz was born in Haifa, Israel. He completed his MBA in financial engineering & real estate at Hebrew University Jerusalem after a BA in both Business Administration - Finance and Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy at IDC Herzliya. He has combined his love of traveling with his knowledge and over 20 years of experience in residential and commercial real estate, as well as natural capabilities to seize opportunities, in his role as Co-founder and CEO of Vonder.