Companies really can be built upon trust

I WAS studying at London Business School last year with every intention of becoming a banker when I graduated,” says Nitzan Yudan. “Then my wife wanted to go on holiday to Bruges and since I was a student money was pretty tight, so I was looking for ways to make a bit of extra money.”

He looked at his assets – his flat and social networks – and thought, there’s a business idea here: an exclusive community for short term renting within social networks, or Flat-Club as it is now known. Individuals can rent out their homes and stay in others’ homes within their work or social network. It works through restricting the invitations only to those whom you trust. “It allows people who work at Goldman Sachs to rent to people who work at Goldman Sachs. Most people are comfortable renting to someone who comes from the same workplace as them.”

He feels vindicated taking this approach. Airbnb – a company doing something similar, and valued at $1bn this summer – was recently mired in scandal when a user was burgled after posting on the site. “I felt terrible for the girl who was burgled but, as an entrepreneur, it made me sure that my business idea was right.”

He set up the website, posted his and a few friends’ flats on it and then sent it to the London Business School’s internal network. “In just two weeks we had 70 flats advertised all over the world.”

“People are just so much more comfortable renting to their work network or friends of friends,” he explains. “We’ve just launched a Facebook app to make this easier. Renting to your Facebook friends of friends widens your pool of contacts.”

He’s enthusiastic about the future. “It’s such a scalable idea.” He thinks it’s a £4bn market – and one that will take off really quickly among international students. Indeed, he’s targeting 20 business schools in the US in the next few months.

At the moment, Flat-Club is housed in London Business School’s business incubator. He’s taken on a partner and a couple of loans. “We’re looking to break a profit in 20 months, but as soon as we’ve paid that off we’re going to look for more funding. I want to take this across the globe.”

Company name: Flat-Club

Company turnover: £1.2m “That’s our first trading year projection according to actual results and 40 per cent monthly growth.”

Job title: Co-founder and CEO

Age: 33

Born: Israel

Lives: South Hampstead

Background: MBA, London Business School

Drinking: Johnny Walker

Idols: Robbie Fowler

Talents: “Making my baby laugh.”

Favourite business book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Motto: “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. So what do you do with it?”