“The fact that there are certain networks, investment funds and mentorship programmes by women for women really helps”
Founded in 2020, Livlet is a digital home management tool that aims to make managing homes easier for homeowners. Business Leader sat down with Livlet Founder Dasha Klyachko to discuss the future of home management, the experiences of women in tech, and how climate change might impact a homeowner.
Can you tell us about your background as an entrepreneur?
I studied Computer Science and Applied Maths at university when it was a lot easier to get a job as a Computer Scientist. I then started working as a Software Developer, and soon after I shifted to working in the financial vertical in the States. I’ve witnessed the financial industry go through a digital transformation, which I believe the property management sector is about to go through.
I’m excited to be in this sector now because it was extremely exciting to be in the financial vertical as it was transforming itself, giving everyone the ability to trade 24/7, with almost any stock and in almost any market – which is something we take for granted now. I have over 20 years in the business and tech industries. I grew my first company from zero to 1000 employees, but I exited the company to spend a few years with my children, and then Livlet was born.
Can you tell me more about Livlet?
Livlet was conceived about two years ago during the lockdown, when, like everyone else, I was stuck in my house, only to realise I knew nothing about it. I remember spending Sunday afternoon trying to fix my boiler, something which Livlet could have helped me fix or avoid. I realised that there are millions of people who experience the same problems with their homes.
Living in a house is not just an emotional place for us to raise our families and spend life in, but for many, our home is the largest financial asset in our lives. The decisions we make with our homes impact not only our life and our family’s lives but it impacts our finances.
Livlet is the next generation of a home management system, which not only stores information but builds a digital representation of your home. This model monitors your home ‘behind the scenes’ to give guidance and advice. All in all, I want Livlet to become a verb, so that it’s so widely spread that people say ‘Oh, did you Livlet your house?’.
How do you think climate change or geopolitical changes might impact home management?
“We are seeing this so acutely now with the war in Ukraine. Effective property management is increasingly at the front of people’s minds for a few reasons. Rising house prices have been the historic driver as people look to maximise property value, but the spike in gas and electricity charges due to the current situation with Russia has really focused homeowners’ minds on making changes to improve energy efficiency.
In the longer term, climate change will only increase this trend – both out of social conscience seeking to minimise environmental impact, and due to increasingly prominent initiatives such as the government’s heat pump scheme and the rise of green mortgage and insurance deals based on energy efficiency rating.
“As a result, consumers will be looking at home management with a new focus. The industry needs to show its value in providing genuinely valuable guidance: helping consumers navigate the ever-expanding maze of new appliances, materials, and technologies – where there are often trade-offs between cost and environmental credentials – giving them the right information to make the right choice at the right price.”
What was it like growing the business during a global pandemic?
It was good because I was completely focused on the business. There were no other distractions and I was able to dedicate all my time to Livlet. Even though people were working from home, I was still able to find the right resources and people to work with me.
At the same time, it was difficult having to deal with such an unusual set of circumstances, as it was for anyone. We are a great team. We have an office in Notting Hill now and we have an offshore team who are a set of developers who have been with us for over a year.
What role has technology played in developing your business?
It has been huge in the development of Livlet. There is another aspect of technology, which is not software development technology, but engineering technology and building engineering. We have a great engineering staff, who help us code into the product the expert knowledge that is otherwise not available to residential home users. So, for traditional non-commercial buildings or very expensive properties, specialists are employed as consultants. What Livlet aims to do is to offer at least part of this knowledge in the form of guidance.
Do you feel female entrepreneurship is alive and kicking today?
Yes, I feel very privileged that I was educated and have been working all my life. I think this is really important. I have two daughters and one son. My eldest daughter had a fork in her life when she had her first child. She loved motherhood a lot and was considering giving up her work.
It was hard for both of us, but I encouraged her to go back and work and manifest herself as a person. She now has a PhD in Molecular Biology. I believe that this shows an example to her kids, so I very much support any woman who wants to return to have a career after having had children. I realised how lucky we are that there are things in place to enable women to work while having children. Even I take this for granted sometimes.
Do you feel like the industry has changed quite significantly in the way it progresses women?
I think the experiences of women are changing, and I think the fact that there are certain networks, investment funds, and mentorship programmes which are by women for women really helps. So, I hope that one day a person will walk into a room where they work, and people won’t think about whether they are a man or a woman – they are just a colleague.