Husband and wife team, Kate and Roland, had often been admiring properties whilst out walking or exploring new places. It was during one of these outings that they became curious about the idea of being able to express their interest to the homeowners without having to get dragged into the process of involving property agents.
They approached Gravitywell with a view to creating an app which would allow people to curate a wishlist of dream homes and connect with owners, allowing both parties to negotiate on their own terms.
We had thorough discussions about how the property market usually operates and how this new app could disrupt that. We produced iterations of very comprehensive wireframes which formed a strong foundation for understanding the features and goals for the best user experience.
Market research showed a couple of other services were providing a similar product. Whilst this could have put some people off progressing, it instead allowed us to pivot the idea slightly and identify a specific gap in the market; this app wouldn’t be for the active property market, but rather, for homeowners and dreamers who could or would one day be looking to buy or sell. For example, you might not be looking to sell your home, but if someone approached you with an offer too good to refuse then perhaps you’d be persuaded.
As part of the Discovery Phase, we also thought about naming the app and arrived at Nøkkel. It’s Norwegian for "key" – hopefully, that makes sense. But aside from the meaning, the word looks nice, sounds good and quickly caught on amongst the team. It was even being used as a verb.
At this point, Kate and Roland had a great package to take away with them. They used clickable wireframes, a couple of concept visualisations and a lightweight brand to go to investors and present.
We are delighted that Nøkkel has secured a Series A investment from FNZ, the global wealth management platform.
Nøkkel has been created to change the way we approach the property market. It’s looking to disrupt the process of buying and selling homes, but not in a fun, quirky way like many disruptors do — positioning this brand was really important.
Property is usually a person’s largest financial asset and so the user needs to be able to quickly trust the brand. Therefore, communication and tone of voice are clear and welcoming.
At any given time less than 1% of all properties are available on the market, and on average the time it takes a property to sell is decreasing rapidly. Nøkkel takes the stress out of this high-pressure environment by getting people to think about property in the long term. Using the app you can curate a wishlist of dream homes, build a network of homeowners and connect when you’re ready to make an offer.
We want to make the home buying experience enjoyable, giving people control and clarity. We wanted the brand to feel premium and aspirational as well as forward-thinking and innovative. And so this is reflected in the rich colour palette and confident style of typography.
As with any ambitious startup, the need for the technology to scale fast is paramount, so this was factored into our decision-making right from the start. This applies to both our infrastructure (we used Serverless cloud resources to ensure automatic horizontal scaling when demand is high) as well as our methodologies — startups don’t get everything right the first time, so we built Nøkkel to be as modular as possible, ensuring that we can easily swap parts out if they need upgrading or replacing.
Having a modular architecture means we’re not wholly reliant on particular parts of the stack or third-party connections, something that’s particularly important when your data is coming from several different providers. We need to connect to multiple third-party APIs, and any one of them could potentially fail to provide what we need — Nøkkel needs to be able to present the information we do have in a reliable and clear way.
Whilst a great deal of clever stuff happens in the backend, the consumer app needed just as much attention to ensure that it provided a best-in-class user experience. Once again, we opted for battle-hardened React Native — this allowed us to maintain two platforms (iOS & Android) and share a common technology: React.
We designed an app to look and feel great in the user’s hands. The "dark mode" helped deliver a premium aesthetic and sparing use of the brand colour — only being used for the primary call-to-action — means that a user journey can be intuitive, even in areas of the app where there is much information to be absorbed.
One of the main challenges of this app is that in order to be inspired by a property, you need to experience it, visually at least. So where a property isn’t "listed" and populated with the owner’s images, we have features to encourage users to upload their own photos and notes, if they have come across the property in the real world and would like to capture their feelings about the local area, setting or a stunning view for example. But we also do everything we can with supporting data to paint the picture of the property — displaying information about the rooms, age and size of it as well as map data.
As an owner, you can claim ownership of a property and raise the profile with your own photos and descriptions. You have complete control as you set your market status from anything between "actively selling" to "only accepting ridiculous offers".
When you’re ready, connect with people who love your home and sell for the best price without the pressure of an agent.
With the platform being backed by enthusiastic investors, Gravitywell is working with Nøkkel to design and implement new features and develop a strategy to grow the user base.
Unlock your dream home, at nokkel.com.
Gravitywell’s interactive, innovative approach made them the perfect technical partner for Nøkkel. The team took the time to really understand our goals, helped shape our thinking and laid the foundations for what is an exciting new tech platform. We’ve really enjoyed working with the Gravitywell team. Written by Roland Whyte (Founder // Nøkkel)