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Manuel Sassella | CEO | City Pop

City Pop: An Ideal Co-Living Solution for the 21st Century

Home is where the heart is. However, sometimes in life, people have to live away from their homes in other cities for various purposes. Finding rental apartments and settling in the new town takes lots of time and energy. One has to put some hard work into getting to know the place to find comfort in living there.

To facilitate a comprehensive solution while solving challenges faced by newbies in the city, from renting houses to comfortably settling in, City Pop came into existence.

The Zurich-based apartment leasing company was founded in 2014 to respond to the changing needs of society and to fill a gap in the real estate market. Manuel Sassella, the CEO of the company, and the City Pop team ensure high-quality guest service through innovation and by creating a community atmosphere for people to make connections.

City Pop has introduced the innovative and future-proof living solution where the surface area is optimized to make guests’ lives easier and more relaxing while relinquishing city hustles, fun, and rewarding! Its buildings offer fully furnished apartments of 21-83 sqm to rent for 4 to 52 weeks, which, thanks to its app, are as easy to book as a hotel room. Plus, quick and secure booking, intuitive check-in, a wide range of services, fast Wi-Fi, and an active community eliminate the stress of business travel, getting around, and everyday life!

 Without further ado, let’s explore the awesome and wholesome story and experience of City Pop.

An Innovative and Customized Living Experience

The advantage of City Pop lies in the fact that they provide one month to a maximum of 52 weeks as a possible booking period; the company has taken a clear position in the market that nobody offers today. Therefore, City Pop is confident that its occupancy rate will remain as good in the future as it is today.

What is most innovative about our concept is, undoubtedly, first and foremost, the City Pop app. It represents the heart and soul of our concept. Through the app, the entire customer experience is customized according to everyone’s needs,” says Manuel Sassella, CEO of the company.

In developing the co-living concept, the company went to market with an innovative and functional MVP app. The team of the company constantly asked its pioneering tenants for their feedback and suggestions. In this way, it has managed to release a new native app that is even easier and more intuitive, where it is gradually integrating new services and functions that make it easier to live in a city that you don’t know yet or that you want to explore even more.

Everything we do is geared toward offering the best living experience to our varied target group,” Manuel stresses. The members share the common denominator of being dynamic and looking for a product that allows them to live in strategic locations, close to services, and in a flexible way.

For guests, the company has designed and developed a new modular apartment design that meets their needs. This new offering places City Pop at the forefront of innovation in its category and allows its unique design and placemaking culture to be implemented in both new and existing hotels and office buildings.

Smart Interior Design and Conceptualization

The City Pop apartments maintain the same minimal and elegant design. Their spaces, from the smallest to the most spacious, allow clients to enjoy complete living: relaxing, working, sleeping, cooking, eating, and keeping fit.

As rapid growth in urban centers continues to spur developers and owners to create new solutions for buildings, we wanted to offer a fitting solution to this growing need,” Manuel points out. Furthermore, he adds, “Using our neuroarchitecture expertise; we developed a smarter approach to spaceby creating more value and flexibility on fewer square meters.”

The company uses its neuroarchitecture knowledge to optimize shared spaces. Its co-living/working spaces are designed to instill well-being and increase the ability to concentrate, thus helping to achieve personal and professional goals, while the breakout areas are designed so that the mind can recharge itself.

Following the successful opening of its five buildings in Switzerland, City Pop is now ready to conquer the European market with its cool design and concept, which is evolving every day.

Creating a Sense of Togetherness

The focus of the City Pop concept is not only to enable its customers to simplify their stay but also to make it easier for them to discover and get involved in the city and in an active community that smells like family.

For the members of its community, City Pop’s team organizes dynamic and adventurous events and activities. In these activities, tenants living in the different cities hosting the concept and their friends can participate in building new connections, exploring and expanding their passions, and, mostly, have fun together. “We’re trying to embody that real meaning of hospitality, putting the customer first and building a community around them,” Manuel tells us.

Creating that sense of togetherness is what we’re all about. Therefore, our buildings also provide multifunctional spaces, designed to facilitate effortless interaction with others,” says Manuel. The guests discover a warm, kind, and safe place where they can ground themselves easily and make long-lasting connections.

Ensuring Quality, Security, and Sustainability

City Pop has a dedicated in-house team that works on devising and researching services that favor its customers’ having more free time, freeing them from tedious tasks. The company firmly believes that the homes of the future should facilitate their inhabitants’ lives and not give them additional work. That is why it has dedicated an internal division, which the company is increasingly expanding. City Pop aims to create innovative living solutions. It is always on the lookout for partners who espouse its corporate values and beliefs.

The company personally chooses its partners because it wants to guarantee its customers both quality and security. As an example, the company makes sure the cleaning service for its customers is given to someone who is known, recognizable, and reliable.

The services City Pop offers to its tenants are also aimed at making their lives healthier and more interesting. In addition to these basic services for an easy living (cleaning services that can be customized according to one’s preferences, parking, private storage, car, and bike-sharing, etc.), the company offers shared spaces that provide a healthy social environment.

It has in-house gyms to stay fit without any excuse, co-kitchens to share an interesting dinner with other tenants or friends, co-cinemas for an Oscar night, and sound rooms to train their passion without disturbing those who want to enjoy a relaxing moment in their apartments.

City Pop also cooperates with local and international partners who match its corporate vision and shared values—both intending to make life easier for the tenants and to sustainable living.

We work with partners who enable sustainable mobility. Thanks to these partnerships, we can guarantee our tenants will always have a green service at hand. There is always a dedicated station for them in front of our buildings, and our customers benefit from free minutes and additional discounts,” says the City Pop’s team.

The company has integrated necessary services for customers into its app. For example, customers can easily book a washing machine and a dryer using the app. It even gives notifications on the status of the service so that no time is wasted.

The app’s ‘Around You’ section suggests local bars, shops, activities in the city, tips on the best local products to buy, etc., both to easily engage the tenant in his neighborhood and make him feel immediately at home and to promote local activities.

Our concept underlines our ambition to create a vast network of City Pop in European gateway cities. We have been perfecting our offering in Switzerland since 2019 and feel confident that City Pop’s philosophy—and design—can help transform existing real estate to become more agile and future-proof,” Manuel adds.

The Founding Values

City Pop is the place where we ourselves would like to live, is the motto of the company,” says the CEO. The company focuses on staying true to this goal by providing opportunities for its employees to stay at the choice of their City Pop location. This allows them to experience the lifestyle and continuously generate feedback to improve the services. It helps the company succeed in improving City Pop every day.

We believe that great things never come from the comfort zone, which is why we strive every day to approach everything in an innovative and challenging way. We do not take a process for granted; we are always improving it and adapting it to changing needs,” Manuel conveys.

The pillars on which our company is founded are efficiency, proactivity, professionalism, and flexibility.”

Promoting Credibility Through Technology

The City Pop team has ensured as many technological tools for the customers as possible. With this power, customers can comfortably access the services of the company as they prefer.

When asked about what the most important technology feature for City Pop is, Manuel says, In my opinion, there really isn’t one that is more important than the others, but one that really makes me realize that we are going in the right direction is the automatic apartment visits.”

This option allows the customer to visit a flat via an app before booking it so that they can dispel any possible doubts, thus increasing the credibility and, therefore, the value of the company’s product.

This feature allows our customers to book a tour of the flat at a time they prefer so that they can imagine themselves at home and see if it is the apartment that suits them best. No unpleasant surprises, just the pleasant smell of home!” adds the CEO.

Marketing Strategy

Nowadays, most companies focus their marketing on social media and advertising campaigns and use influencers to promote their brands; these are certainly effective tools. However, the City Pop team tries to change the game and focuses its energies on getting people to find a lifestyle in their flats.

Speaking about the marketing strategy of City Pop to promote values of togetherness, Manuel says, “Our corporate philosophy is also reflected in our marketing strategy. We believe it’s important to live in a community that feels like home and family. And we want to convey the message that ours are not aseptic flats in which to spend a few days or a simple alternative to a hotel. We are a family, and we welcome you home.

This is something that seems difficult to accomplish, but the company achieves it by creating an active community and organizing events that engage them and cater to everyone’s tastes. “We focus on designing furniture and the creation of common spaces in order to enhance the lifestyle of the people living in the buildings,” notes Manuel.

Fostering Multicultural Coexistence

City Pop has been a true promoter of multicultural coexistence as it houses people from different nations and different cultures in one location. Speaking about this, Manuel says, “We have realized that our customer base boasts clients from all over the world. Looking in the CRM of our back office, we discovered that they come from more than 40 different countries.

We are extremely proud of the melting pot that has been created, and this spurs me on to make sure that this trend is also respected in the hiring process of our team.”

To match the diversity of its customer base, the company hires professionals from diverse backgrounds. As Manuel states, “We are not only a young and fun company, but we are also multinational with colleagues from all over the globe.”

He mentions, “Sharing your ideas with people from different cultures broadens your horizons and makes you approach everything with more creativity and a better frame of mind.”

Advice To Budding Entrepreneurs

When asked about what advice he would like to provide to those who are aspiring to enter the industry, to which Manuel answered, “Today, real estate is a highly interesting and, at the same time competitive sector. It is a very good one, although not the easiest one. It really takes a lot of persistence, especially since the real estate market is no longer static as seen just a few years ago.”

Across Europe, Manuel has observed more competition for the best properties and increased market pressure for greater efficiency. According to him, there is also a shortage of people to hire because everyone struggles for talent. In this scenario, he says, “To get the best, you have to make sure you have the right corporate philosophy to attract the right people.”

“Finally, it is crucial to make sure you keep up with technology and innovation. You have to understand how to operate to keep up with both the needs and expectations of your customers to get the best out of your property,” adds Manuel.

Furthermore, he advises, “it is always crucial to ask yourself which segment your property was created for and which audience you should best address. Therefore, make sure you think from their point of view in every important decision.”

At City Pop, when creating new services or designs, the company involves its guests through interviews and prototype testing. This way, it makes sure to offer its customers services that are useful and appreciated.

In the end, it seems hard to say, but you just have to make sure that every project has a soul,” he suggests.

Envisioning the Future

City Pop’s development plans for the next five years involve constructing 15,000 apartments in major European cities and creating a tribe of highly mobile people. Thanks to important investments in the integration of the most innovative technologies, the synergies the company intends to cultivate with service providers, and constant and in-depth studies to improve its products. City Pop intends to evolve its concept, guaranteeing ever higher quality standards.

Manuel tells us, “We are always looking for new locations to take our concept worldwide and offer our members the possibility of finding us in the main European cities.”

For this reason, City Pop is opening offices in the cities where it wants to bring its concept to better understand the market and its needs. The company is also hiring experienced local talent to select the best locations for its target group.

In order to grow at the pace we have so far, one of the things we are doing is to get framework agreements with European developers who can help us in our ambitious growth,” concludes Manuel.

The Pioneering Leader

Expanding your horizons beyond what you’re familiar with is something Manuel Sassella knows too well. Manuel started his career in the real estate sector at a very young age in 2011. He was only 22 years old when he joined the Artisa Group as an assistant accountant. At the same time, he completed his studies and obtained the federal diploma of Specialist in Finance and Accounting.

In a short time, he became a trusted collaborator for the group, and he was responsible for the accounting of construction sites. In 2014, he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors.

Extremely curious and always looking for new challenges, Manuel’s team started designing a new living concept. And, with the company and its heterogeneous and multifunctional team, they asked themselves what the gap in the market was. They came up with a concept that would anticipate and meet the needs of young workers and tireless dreamers like themselves.

Manuel is highly attached to the value of family and recognizes its importance. It was, therefore, crucial for him to be able to instill this sense of belonging within the concept. He worked closely with the app development team so that the app would provide the opportunity for City Pop customers to socialize in the online world, but especially offline. The first contact is generated in the app, but it is in the co-living places, where the buildings are rich, that people meet.

Proof of Excellence

“I was the happiest person on Earth when I moved in, stayed a whole year, and I loved every moment of it. I was heartbroken when I had to leave (Covid=work). Wonderful design and quality items (furniture, home accessories), but the absolute highlight is the team. Real professionalism, and they always went above expectations, loved the events as well. Happy memories; I hope I can return soon”.

Michael – Customer of City Pop – Bern

“We are satisfied. The quality and price are proportional. The customer service is always nice and responds quite fast. We also really appreciate the small gifts we receive for Christmas or other occasions! Thanks a lot!!!”

Matilda – Customer of City Pop – Zurich