The first web-based relocation platform. It was enough to capture my curiosity! I asked Michael Krasman, co founder of UrbanBound (along with Jeff Ellman), to explain in major details the features of the solution and tell us some secrets behind the Chicago-based startup that yesterday announced a $5m Series A round.
FinSMEs: Hi Michael, can you tell us a bit more about you?
Michael: Sure. I am a serial entrepreneur at heart. I have co-founded five high growth businesses over the last fifteen years. I still sit on the board of three of these companies (UrbanBound, Hireology, and Homescout Realty). My first business, Versity.com, grew rapidly over a 3 year period and we successfully sold it in 2000. At Versity I wore a lot of hats, CFO, VP of Product Development and Board Member. Prior to that I was a financial analyst at the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette in New York (which was acquired by Credit Suisse). I am an alum of University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business where I got a Bachelor of Business Administration with high honors. Outside of UrbanBound, I serve as the Area Director and Past-President of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Chicago, which is a global organization with over 9,000 members worldwide.
FinSMEs: What’s UrbanBound? What’s the problem do you want to solve?
Michael: UrbanBound is the first web-based relocation platform that provides companies with a comprehensive relocation experience for their newly hired and transferring employees. For many employers, offering relocation to the majority of their workforce is not feasible due to the extremely high cost of traditional relocation benefits programs. By developing software that can be self-administered by the transferring employee, UrbanBound has made relocation much more affordable and, subsequently, accessible to the entire organization. Furthermore, UrbanBound offers tremendous time savings to HR professionals as they no longer have to handle all of the questions relocating employees typically ask.
FinSMEs: How does it work?
Michael: It begins with the employer creating an account for the employee needing to relocate. This can be done on an individual basis or a group of employees can be batch uploaded to our system. Either way, the process takes under a minute for the account administrator. The employee will receive instructions for how to access the system and will be given a temporary password. Once they log-in and answer our short survey, they are ready to go! The software will be completely customized based on the answers provided so that each employee experience is different based on their needs. Within the platform, employees will be able to educate themselves on their new destination, organize and plan their entire move, find housing, and get connected to vendors who are not only vetted, but, also offer a unique discount to our clients.
FinSMEs: What’s your business model?
Michael: UrbanBound receives a modest license fee for each ‘seat’ that is needed. In our case, a ‘seat’ is an individual employee that is going to be relocating. In addition, we receive compensation from some of the vendors that we work with if they assist our clients with their move. By having multiple revenue streams, we are able to keep our license costs low as the vendor network is essentially subsidizing the costs.
FinSMEs: I know you already have well known customers. Some names? Some numbers?
Michael: Currently we work with over 100 large companies (many of whom are members of the Fortune 1000). A few examples of some of our clients are Groupon, Razorfish, C.H. Robinson and Plante Moran.
FinSMEs: You have just closed a Series A round with first class investors. How are you using the funds?
Michael: There are 3 primary uses of the funds. First, we are aggressively scaling our workforce. Specifically, we’ll be hiring developers and salespeople. Second, we are enhancing the platform based on the incredible feedback that we’ve been receiving from our customers. There are many features that they are asking for and we are excited to accelerate the pace that these features can be delivered. Third, we are going to expand our services internationally. The vast majority of our clients are multinational organizations and are thrilled to utilize our platform on a global scale.
FinSMEs: Future plans?
Michael: We are focused on expanding our customer base while also enhancing our platform.
I forgot to ask Michael some info about the team. Beyond Michael and Jeff, it includes Erin Wasson (VP of Marketing) and Michael Walkden (VP of Product).