Flextila provides spaces for flexible use
Flextila is an intelligent platform economy solution developed for sharing spaces. It connects people in need of a temporary space and those who have a space to share.
The idea for creating an online service for sharing spaces was born in 2013, and the first version of the service was launched by the end of 2014. However, in 2014 the market wasn’t yet ready, and many felt uncomfortable with the idea of renting a short term space online.
It wasn’t until the big names of sharing economy, such as Airbnb and Uber, made their business model known to the general public that operators like Flextila also got their chance and the business took off.
Having started as a service for renting out office and meeting spaces, in 2018 the business and platform have grown to meet the needs of owners of all kinds of spaces. Today the service will allow you find and rent anything from storages, parking spaces and saunas to hobby rooms and cottages
Everything starts with customer service
Flextila is different from other space renting sites: by using the service the customer not only finds a space that meets their needs but is also able to book the space, pay the rent and receive instructions on how to use the space. In other words, Flextila is not just a brokering service but also a genuine online shop for spaces.
Since the very beginning, Flextila’s development has been centered around its different users and their experiences in using the service.
A Flextila customer can be any instance or person who owns an unoccupied space and would like it to be used more efficiently. Recently, housing cooperatives have formed a growing customer base, as they are able to rent out spaces of different types, such as hobby rooms and sauna facilities.
“Our customers fall into two groups, those who need a space and those who own one. A typical example is a small business owner who needs a space for a meeting. When a space is needed only for an hour or a day, renting by the month isn’t a very appealing alternative. Flextila provides an effective and easy solution. We are talking about an online shop for spaces,” says Pasi Kivekäs, the CEO of Joustotoimisto Oy, the company behind Flextila.
The service also solves the problems related to, for example, the booking of various coworking spaces and hubs. A company can use the Flextila service for a monthly fee, meaning that the company doesn’t need to set up their own system.
Collaborating with Sofokus
The collaboration with Sofokus officially began in 2016 with the recreation of the entire original system. Flextila wanted a reliable system that wouldn’t buckle under the pressure of even large visitor numbers and would be able to scale up and grow with the developing business. It also wanted a supplier that would have the necessary technical skills and experience to integrate demanding access control and smart lock systems.
“There are a lot of suppliers that are able to create impressive webpages but the important thing for us was that the foundation had to be solid. We were under the impression that Sofokus had made some demanding integrations before and that it was able to scale up the business with us,” Kivekäs says.
In Flextila’s experience, Sofokus combines the benefits of a big software company with the agility of a small one: work is carried out in a flexible but systematic way, processes and systems are functional, support is responsive and things are taken care of swiftly and without unnecessary rigidity.
Sofokus also has a reputation for carrying out successful projects: customer references convinced Flextila of Sofokus’ ability to scale the service according to Flextila’s needs.
“When we come across a challenge, Sofokus always has a solution,” Kivekäs says.
According to Kivekäs, Sofokus has a project-oriented and professional approach. “Sofokus sets out to understand the real needs and problems of the customer before anything else happens. After that, a clear project plan and milestones are created, which help us see the different stages of the project. Communication with the customer is excellent throughout the process. In the past couple of years, Sofokus has really risen to the next level when it comes to things like these.”
According to Kivekäs, SaaS development is crucial and mustn’t stagnate or competitors will get the upper hand. In Kivekäs’ experience, Sofokus has a lot to offer in this regard and is also able to meet the needs of Flextila’s customers. When the service was being built, integrations were carried out with several lock manufacturers and other operators. The integrations were challenging, since no one had ever done them before. Sofokus created pioneering integrations for access control and smart lock systems: before, the systems had been closed but now an open system was built for the first time.
“The service is fantastic in itself, and the fact that we can trust Sofokus is essential. You have always managed solve any problems we’ve had,” Kivekäs says.
What were the results?
Since the service was published in its current form in 2016, Flextila’s turnover has doubled and its site traffic has increased ten-fold.
Considering the starting point, the increase in the number of visitors has been incredible. Flextila has gained recognition but many still rent out their spaces by jotting down the bookings in a notebook and arrange the key to be picked up from somewhere. Flextila has a lot of work to do in Finland. As Kivekäs points out, “the job isn’t even half done yet – more development is constantly needed.”
The customers of Flextila have been applauding how easy the service is to use, as it works just as well on mobile devices as on a computer and can be used without a separate application. From Flextila’s point of view, the important thing is that the service allows the building of new interfaces and features on top of the old one.
Flextila’s business is growing fast: what started out as a service for renting office spaces and work desks diversified into leasing a golf simulator only a couple of weeks ago. Flextila’s service is primarily used for booking time, so in terms of processes the object of the booking doesn’t matter – it can be a carwash, a desk, a parking space, a sauna or a cottage.
“Above all, we see it as a platform that enables you to share spaces at your convenience,” Kivekäs says.