Vietnamese proptech startup Ohana, which helps young college students and professionals locate affordable accommodation, is taking its services to Singapore this month to capture the island city’s “large base of youthful consumers battling with rising rental cost,” according to Cathy Tran, CEO and co-founder of the company.
Founded in 2017, Ohana is a promising startup in Vietnam, focusing on a niche portion of the country’s housing rental market that is riddled with misinformation.
The startup targets young people aged between 19 and 30, helping them to find suitable accommodations through a “data-driven” process by matching their requirements with potential landlords. The landlords also receive support from the platform to make their listings more appealing and can access insights about customers’ preferences.
In Vietnam, Ohana claims that it has already reached more than 300,000 users in three main cities—Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang—and that its user base is growing by 25% on a monthly basis.
Tran said the issue of housing is always the first and foremost concern for young people relocating to Singapore.
“Originally we wanted to serve the growing need of Vietnamese who pick Singapore as their top place to live. However, young people from all backgrounds have been moving to Singapore in search of opportunities because it’s the center of all economic activities in the region,” Tran said.
For the Singapore market, Tran said Ohana has no direct competitor because the platform targets people under the age of 30 that are seeking accommodation in the budget range of SGD 500–1,500 (USD 368–1,104) per month. For now, Ohana is working with privately owned dormitories and affordable co-living spaces as these suppliers want to woo millennial renters.
“Because of the pressure to save money, regardless of location, they all need to share, either by sharing a condo with flatmates or joining a co-living space,” Tran said, noting that young people do have other alternatives of finding flatmates via Facebook groups or personal recommendations.
There is a healthy crop of proptech platforms in Singapore, with some big names like 99.co and PropertyGuru for the high-end segments and a slew of smaller sites for lower-priced rentals. Tran believes that Ohana can also add value by becoming a community app for urban millennials to “navigate new life in the city.”
“Our goal is to be the real estate app that’s insightful and friendly for the urban millennial renters in Vietnam, Singapore, and a few other countries, so that for renters of our generation, settling in a new city around the globe is no longer an uphill battle,” Tran said.