Thrilling! We had the chance to interview Christine McDannell, founder of Kndrd, author of The Coliving Code, and one of the most sparkling and insightful people when it comes to coliving. Yes, we mean that worldwide! Follow us as we ask Christine about her passions, her bond with her housemates and the wonders of using software for both tenants and operators of coliving spaces.
We tend to define ourselves by our jobs a bit too much. So, can you introduce yourself without speaking of work? What do you love? What inspires you?
My name is Christine McDannell. I love innovation and I love future thinkers. Everybody I’m surrounded with is usually trying to work on and think about the future, and how to improve the world to make it a better place, even though we also try to stay present too, of course. I also love adrenaline so I race motorcycles. I race a Yamaha R6. I’ve been riding motorcycles for probably about 18 years total and absolutely love it. I also love skydiving so sign me up for anything that gets my adrenaline up.
Cool! Now we can talk a bit about work: What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been working on Kndrd, which is a global technology platform for the coliving industry both for the operators and residents. This means all the property management tools like invoicing, reservations, rent collection, etc. Then we also have our Directory, which is the search and discovery side of Kndrd. This means you can search on the phone App and find Coliving anywhere in the world. You can view photos and virtual tours, you can digitally sign a lease, meet your future housemates, all that good stuff. Within a couple clicks you should be able to move into a new thriving coliving community anywhere in the world.
Now, let’s have a bit of fun. Say you are living in one of the many coliving spaces (hopefully soon) available in Finland:
- What song would you be blasting?
I have a lot of favorites, anything by Rüfüs Du Sol, to be honest, that’s probably my favorite right now, I’ve been playing on repeat. I love their stuff.
- What movie would you watch over and over again in the shared/building’s movie theater?
That’s also a hard one. I don’t watch many movies to be honest.
- What food would you teach others to cook?
Anything Italian like pasta or homemade bruschetta. I’m half Italian, so that food side of me loves to come out.
- And then what book would you donate to the building’s library?
Oh my God, there’s so many amazing books. I’m a huge reader. But right now I would donate ‘Super Pumped’ which is the story of Uber. It came out last year. It is an incredible book.
With many models and operators out there, some people are confused about what coliving is. How would you define it? What is the essence of it?
This is actually easy. I’ve had to define coliving a lot these past years. To me coliving is community. Essentially it’s the first two letters: CO for COliving and CO for COmmunity. That’s the essence. It’s about like-minded people that get to share everything under one roof: Their thoughts, their beliefs, what drives them, their hobbies, their music tastes… I’ve loved hearing different playlists from my housemates. That’s the essence. It’s just magic. I love every second of it. I never even hear any arguments in my home which is really impressive. There’s not been a single fight which blows my mind.
Some have claimed the coliving business models not to be stable enough (especially now during the pandemic). What’s your take on that?
You know, it’s funny, I always said coliving would do even better during a recession because people need to downsize but we never thought about what would happen during a pandemic. Nobody in the world thought about a pandemic and we are really coming out strong. All the operators I’ve talked to around the world have handled this so well and so proactively. I think it’s because coliving runs on very tight systems as is, so it’s very easy to add this additional layer of systems to make sure that residents stay healthy and safe. Very few people have gotten sick in any coliving operation around the world, thankfully. There was 1 case in a 2500-unit community and 1 in a 500-unit community, whom they isolated for 14 days. The other people were fine. Plus, they were supported. People could bring them food and anything they needed so they didn’t have to go out and put others at risk. For this reason I actually think you’re better off being isolated with your coliving community as opposed to being isolated alone.
You’ve been a pioneer in the use of software apps to help operators communities operate. How does it work in practice?
Essentially, we have 2 things. One is the user App which would be for your guest or residents. They can post a question or a poll to the community like, “Hey I’m thinking about having this event”, and people can vote on a date. There are all sorts of really great things like that the user can do from the user App, which are both on iOS and Android. We also have a desktop version. They can send reminders and check maintenance requests, bookings, all sorts of stuff, which is great. Our software has very extensive reporting financials and dashboards so you can see vacancy percentages and ratios of expenses versus income.
We’re just thrilled. Of course, there is still a lot more to build. I’m really excited about the reviews and testimonial section we’re building. People will be able to do video reviews and testimonials from their phone about their community and share those. This way, other people can see firsthand a peer review of a living space which does not even exist anywhere in the rental community world or real estate for some odd reason, even though living is the most important thing we do and our biggest expense. There’s no global review site. Google reviews is the closest thing but there’s a lot of fake reviews on there. We’re excited to launch this video review feature.
You actually currently live with 5-6 other entrepreneurs in a small coliving space: How have you bonded with your fellow coliving-mates?
We are six entrepreneurs in a big house. It’s a six bedroom home with five bathrooms. They’re all like brothers to me. It’s so much fun! I joke and call them my five husbands because each one is different, they all have different traits and personalities. But we have that common bond of being entrepreneurs and working really hard on our companies. We all own separate companies and are all working from home during this time. Usually four of us have offices and the other two work from home. But it’s actually worked really well: we’re in different parts of the house and we’re each working 10-hour days.
Then, at night and on the weekends we call it “summer camp” and we just started having movie nights and the guys are playing video games, we’re ordering ice cream and pizza, even though usually we eat very healthy during the week. We also got a puppy! One of our housemates wanted one for a long time but was busy travelling for months. So now everybody is home to play with the puppy, it’s just like the time of our lives. We always say we want to be grateful for this moment in time because years down the road, we’ll look back at it as our favorite part of our lives. It’s just so unique how we get to live. And of course we still have a chef coming in who is doing our shopping and cooking still and we have our laundry and cleanings. All the conveniences we already had are still going on. We just can’t have outside friends over yet and we really can’t go out too much because obviously we don’t want to bring anything unsafe back into the house. We’ve all agreed to do that and be conscious of this unique time in our world.
You recently launched a new edition of The Coliving Code. What can we expect to find there?
Yes we did! We launched two new versions of The Coliving Code. The original was published in August of 2018. Obviously, 2019 was a banner year for coliving and showed tremendous growth in the large developing sector and the investor sector of living.
That’s why we did two versions: One is the Large Operator & Developer Guide and the other is the Investor Guide. We really wanted to target each specific reader’s needs by breaking it up categorically. We’re really excited. We started in December and worked through January, February, March. It took four months to write both of them. It’s essentially an updated version of the original broken down into reader demographics. The original is really more for small operators: somebody that wants to start a house with maybe six bedrooms from scratch. For larger, bigger operators we needed to update it, which is what the second book is. And then the needs of investors are completely different as well, so we wanted to carve out a space for them too. You can order any of them on Amazon or if you contact our team: We have digital versions on sale too.