Matchmakers

How Bundle Turned Employee Relocation Into A Matchmaker Model

Can the platform model help companies relocate employees — and help employees find affordable housing? Bundle Founder Joe Cucchiara contends that a fragmented process — of finding apartments and houses, booking the move — and getting discounts on services — can be streamlined it’s all brought online and, well, bundled.

Welcome to the age of the $1,200 bunk bed.

News came this month that housing costs have skyrocketed so much in California that bunk beds (and toiletries) can be rented in communal homes for that high price.

Privacy falls by the wayside, then, setting down roots in tech’s Wild West and finding the perfect place to live — or any place to live for that matter — proves to be an elusive goal.

So, a new program is offering employee perks and benefits of a different sort.

Bundle Select helps companies get their employees settled as they buy and sell homes in new towns and cities via relocation. The company has said Visa and Salesforce have joined its client roster in the wake of signing Guardant Health, Adobe and other companies onto its online platform.

In an interview with Karen Webster, Founder Joe Cucchiara said the overarching goal is to reduce the cost of finding, buying and settling into a new home or apartment (or renting one). The company states it can save employees of Bundle’s corporate partners as much as 25 percent on a slew of services tied to real estate, spanning realtors, title companies and relocation services.

Indirect Platform Model

The platform model through Bundle Select gives employees of Bundle’s partner firms a dedicated concierge across buying and selling, which Cucchiara said comes at no cost to the client or its workers. As a result, this bundles a typically fragmented process where stakeholders in the process rarely talk to one another, and certainly do not work together to speed up the property buying process or to bring costs down.

That’s especially true of relocation when time is of the essence, Cucchiara said. Employees may have only a few weeks to find a place to live, seal the deal and move, often with family in tow. He noted that relocation services can be expensive, time-consuming and confusing for employers and employees alike.

“Even if they are relocating and not buying, we can help them, too,” he said.

In Bundle’s quest to, well, bundle far-flung activities that get people settled in new locales, Cucchiara said there is opportunity to combine services across a platform where, as it stands now, “everybody works independently, and when I say everybody, that means the lender, the real estate title company — everyone is fighting for their commission, and no one works together to say ‘how can we simplify this, and … save the consumer money?’”

The desire is there, too, on the part of would-be consumers; Cucchiara said surveys show about 90 percent of individuals would prefer to use a real estate professional during the course of a transaction.

“These decisions are emotional ones,” he said, and they require high levels of service from vendors.

Matchmaker Concept

Against that backdrop, Cucchiara used the matchmaker concept as representing a “great analogy” of what the company is attempting to do. He said Bundle has created a platform that can be customized as employees navigate the site, offering bundled services across the aforementioned buying and/or relocation processes.

The platform calculates discounts as the employees pick and choose among the services on offer. They can then contact the concierge service and build a profile, “really drilling down and finding out what their needs and timelines are,” Cucchiara noted.

Bundle then assigns professionals, such as real estate agents and moving companies, to the transaction, building a dedicated team that works with the employee.

“The benefit is that everybody on this team knows the discount they have to give,” he told Webster of the in-place Bundle network. “They know the service requirements, and then we work alongside them from start to finish to make sure the service components are taken care of.”

As Cucchiara pointed out, employees of Bundle’s client firms can bring their own real estate agents and other providers into the process, if those providers are willing to give the relocating employee the expected discount and also pay Bundle the flat fees mandated by the contracts.

Elaborating a bit on those fees, Cucchiara said Bundle is paid by its preferred vendors, where, for instance, the maximum real estate agent fee is roughly $3,950, which is set whether the listing is $1 million or $7 million. Conversely, the fee paid on a $500,000 listing is roughly $1,500 paid out to the company. For the agents and other service professionals, who take about a 30 percent discount, the benefit lies with a steady pipeline of work.

Cucchiara said the company is gaining scale in the wake of a beta test that last year brought on Adobe and Guardant Health. The initial launch in the Bay Area presages goals where the company aims to have 1 million employees on the platform by 2020, up half a million in sight by the fall.

“By 2023, we want to have 5 million,” he told Webster, “while staying in our lane” of offering discounts to employees.

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