Tech City: App lets house-mates share bills and chores
PUBLISHED: 14:16 17 December 2015 | UPDATED: 14:33 17 December 2015
Reporter Sophie Inge talks to Oliver Southern, the co-founder of Chored, an app that lets house-mates split and pay bills, as well as assigning and tracking household chores.
Most of us have been there: you’ve spent the whole morning cleaning the flat and, despite your passive-aggressive fridge notes, your house-mates are only creating more mess.
This scenario was wearily familiar for Oliver Southern, who shared a house during his time as a law student.
“For the most part, it was a lot of fun - but we did have some arguments, such as who had left out week-old dirty dishes,” says Oliver, 32. “Then, when I moved into a shared property after university, I noticed that arguments over chores and bills worsened.
“The thing that struck me was the imbalanced ‘responsibility quota’ – one person was always left to manage all the bills and to chase people for owed money. That was me, in case you hadn’t guessed!”
So he set about thinking of ways to solve the problem.
“The first light-bulb moment I had was to create a living and cleaning rota in an app format – as a lot of arguments were over minor trivial chores and cleaning issues. I then thought of integrating a payment platform, so there’d be no more disagreements over payments not being made on time, or people being owed money by house-mates.”
That’s how he came up with the idea for Chored, which he started developing with CTO Melvin Wijenayaka in 2014. It’s an app that allows house-mates to split and pay bills – including rent and utilities – directly to the relevant company.
Users can also assign and track household chores. And the app includes a “who’s home” feature, which uses geo-location so that you can see who’s in.
“It’s helpful if you forget to push the button on your load of washing – simply access the app, see who’s home and ask them to push the button for you,” explains Oliver.
Using the app is simple, he says. Users can create a virtual house on the app, using a name and a postcode. This then acts as a sort of password, which your house-mates can enter to get into the virtual house. Then it’s simply a case of adding a chore, or a bill, or posting a message to ‘the fridge’.
When it comes to bills, all users can enter the total amount which is then split across all house-mates. They then receive messages telling them that there’s a bill to pay. Each house-mate can then pay his or her share straight to the utility company.
For Oliver, who had previously worked at Yahoo and Telefonica - where he helped develop the communication app ‘TU Go’ - starting a business of his own is a lifelong dream.
“One of my favourite aspects about running a business like Chored is the autonomy of it. I know exactly what I’m doing and I’m across all the detail,” he says.
“Working in a large company, you can feel like you’re a small part in a massive machine. Running a start-up is the complete opposite – everything that happens is because of something you did, or didn’t do.
“Suddenly, you’re the machine. It means that you can take credit for the good decisions, and shoulder responsibility for the bad ones.”
Of course, apps targeting the house-share market are nothing new.
In April this year, tech entrpreneur Nick Katz launched Splittable - an app that lets house-mates keep track of household expenses.
Nevertheless, Oliver is convinced that there is still a gap in the market.
“Chored is unique in that it fully integrates the mobile payments functionality, allowing users to directly link to their real-life utility bills. We also provide a messaging platform and task-management capability.”
Unlike other apps on the market, Chored allows users to combine all house-share admin in one simple app, he adds.
So far so good: over the past year, the company has secured around £150,000 in alternative finance for the app, which launched in October this year.
This was achieved through a mixture of crowd-funding, angel investors and the Start-up Funding Club.
Currently, the company is in the middle of its second raise and looking for a £800k investment to scale up fast – first in the UK and, eventually, in Europe.
“We’ve got a few ideas on how we can evolve the app, which are in development at the moment,” says Oliver, who runs the business from Newington Green, on the border between Hackney and Islington.
“I’d love for Chored to be front and centre in the house-share market, with me alongside it.”
Chored is available to download on iOS and Android. To find out more visit www.chored.net.