Q&A with True North’s CEO and Founder Jill Ju

The BTR News team in conversation with Jill Ju, CEO and Founder of co-living investment and management company True North Management.

The BTR News team in discussion with Jill Ju about True North Management and the co-living sector | BTR News
The BTR News team in discussion with Jill Ju about True North Management and the co-living sector.

While speaking to True North Management CEO and Founder Jill Ju, we gained a fascinating insight into the progression that the company has contributed to the co-living sector, the inspiration behind why Jill started True North, the Holm Wimbledon Park co-living community, what makes the company stand out among the competition, and what the future holds for True North and its co-living presence.

Can you tell us about your career background and why you founded True North Management?

I previously worked as the Investment Director at Greystar and the Chief Investment Officer at The Collective, and throughout my career, I’ve seen first-hand the transformation of living asset types and the growing demands of urban residents across various sub-sectors. However, one glaring gap remained: affordable, quality rental homes for middle-income ‘everyday people’, the ones driving the heart of our city.

This was the spark that ignited True North in 2021, and to fill this gap, we’ve combined global experiences and a shared commitment to positive change through purpose-driven real estate. We’re not just creating buildings; we’re creating homes that are places to ‘be’, and that meet the wellbeing needs of our residents and communities. We’re taking everything we love about city living and making it attainable, inviting and affordable.

True North Management recently launched its co-living concept, Holm. Can you tell us more about this?

Holm Wimbledon Park is more than just a residence; it’s a vibrant community. With 86 studios and a variety of communal spaces, we’ve curated a relaxed environment where our members can be delighted with the variety of spaces, be connected to like-minded people, and be free to pursue their full potential in an amazing city like London.

We have created a range of co-working spaces that fosters both focused work and collaboration, along with other amenities such as indoor/outdoor lounges, chef’s kitchens, private dining room, co-working spaces, a communal garden and a community events calendar.

In Wimbledon, we found residents value the nature in the area and peaceful environment whilst being only a five-minute walk from the tube and great access links.

We believe an ESG policy is only meaningful when it trickles through day-to-day decision-making across the organisation. Through careful choices, like sourcing soft furnishings from Ukraine, we’ve instilled our commitment to peace and global communities. We’ve also built dozens of bug hotels around the property along with a wildflower meadow to promote biodiversity.

Can you elaborate on the inspiration behind the name?

The name “Holm” is a tribute to the mature holm oak trees standing proudly in our grounds. It symbolizes the tranquillity and natural beauty that our residents find right in the heart of the bustling city.

Many continue to associate co-living with The Collective. What makes you different?

At True North, we’re not about pigeonholing co-living into a single model. Instead, we focus on understanding the evolving needs of our urban residents and delivering innovative solutions. Our emphasis lies in cultivating localised communities, delivering quality service, and planning sustainable growth. We are planning to deliver 1,500 units in London over the next three years, through a mix of forward purchases and our own development programme. Our vision isn’t about expansion for expansion’s sake, but growing thoughtfully in response to the changing landscape.

You have made a commitment to social value – can you tell us more about what this entails?

True North is a purpose-driven company, and at its heart is our commitment to fostering social value. This starts from creating quality homes designed for ‘everyday people’ and what they need to live a good and enriched life in cities like London – we know this has been a segment of society largely neglected by new developments.

At the same time, we all know that big cities can be a lonely place sometimes, and we curate community events and member clubs to stimulate genuine friendships. We want to encourage meaningful connections and opportunities for personal and professional growth. And I must say, nothing quite compares to the joy of seeing our residents cultivating their own tomatoes, sweet peas and courgettes, as well as a wildflower meadow!

Do you think there will be a long-term demand for co-living in London?

Absolutely! London’s diversity and dynamism create a unique demand for flexible, high-quality co-living spaces. The enthusiasm we’ve seen for our approach validates our belief that there is a significant, underserved market for what we’re offering. Despite the macro uncertainty, the future looks bright to us, and we can’t wait to unveil some of the ambitious projects we have in the pipeline!

What are your priorities for the rest of this year?

Our eyes are firmly set on our London pipeline, where we aim to make city living attainable and enjoyable for more people. We’re dedicated to building communities that nurture connections and personal wellbeing. Essentially, we want to amplify the advantages of city living while mitigating the challenges.

Where do you see True North in the next five years?

In five years, we envision True North maturing as a leader in the flexible living sector, known for creating vibrant, community-driven spaces that respond to the evolving needs of urban dwellers. This involves not only growing our physical footprint, but also innovating our offerings and enhancing our service levels. We’re excited about setting benchmarks in resident experience, operational excellence and sustainability, continually adding value for our members and stakeholders.