2 New Startups Modernize the Leasing Experience

Posted in News by Ben Worsley

Startup Roundup: July 23, 2020

Several new SaaS platforms get funding for business plans that streamline the leasing process.

Noteworthy Startups

Everyone who’s looked for an apartment can identify with the pain points involved. You see a listing on Craigslist, email the property manager, and by the time you hear back, it’s taken. Enter two startups that want to change the leasing experience, but their business plans come at it from completely different directions. Let's take a look.

First is a renter-driven app called PocketList. They recognized that renters know when an apartment will be vacant long before it is actually on the market. The app, which is free to its renters, lets renters announce that their moving long before they provide written notice to the property. The software, which protects the renter’s privacy, allows reviews, ratings and interaction. Think Glassdoor for apartments. The revenue model is via the pro toolkit for landlords. Because landlords can’t show an apartment until after the tenant is moved out, the average flip stays vacant for 26 days. With PocketList, a landlord gets a list of interested leads the day the apartment is vacated. Already operating in the L.A.-area, the revenue company recently raised $2.8 million in Seed funding from Craft Ventures and Abstract Ventures.

MeetElise also seeks to ease the frustration of apartment hunting via its A.I.-powered agent. A critical challenge leasing agents have is correspondence and scheduling with prospective renters. A potential renter submits an inquiry via a website or email, and by the time they see a reply, they’re no longer looking at their computer and maybe a day goes by. It’s completely inefficient. MeetElise’s A.I. can reply immediately to the inquiry, answering specific questions about the property, and coordinating with the leasing agent’s calendar to book an appointment, all in real-time and at any time. Their Series A funding round of $6.5 million was led by Navitas Capital.

Staying on the theme of creating connections, Rah Rah is a college platform engagement platform that aims to simplify campus life. From campus clubs to intramural sports, campus life is vibrant and energetic place, and for most it’s information-overload. Rah Rah is a one-stop app for all aspects of non-academic life and connects the entire campus community, not just students, to resources, organizations, and events that are the very pulse of the college experience. Rah Rah recently raised seed funding of $2.78 million from private investors Dave Duffield and Phil Wilmington, the founder and vice chairman (respectively) of Workday.

Small Business News

Senate Republicans are nearing their proposal for a second COVID-19 relief package (the House Democrats passed theirs, known as the HEROES Act, back in March). With pandemic unemployment assistance set to expire this week, and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans exhausted, there’s no time like the present. But if you thought, like I did, a hard deadline would spur consensus within the party, think again. The White House and the Senate GOP are struggling to agree and are now saying the proposal may not come until next week. The key points of disagreement appear to be over unemployment insurance and payroll taxes. If consensus is this difficult within a party, imagine what we’re in for when negotiations begin across the aisle. In short, if we don’t get a bill from the Republicans until next week, I just don’t see how we see a law signed by the President any time soon. (Politico, Forbes)

Unchanged from what we hearing a week ago, the Republicans are looking to keep the package at $1 trillion (the Dems came in at $3 trillion) Particular to small business, provisions of the Republican bill are:

  • Federal unemployment would continue for the rest of the year, but be capped at 70% of the worker’s lost wages (this is currently the $600/week PUA that supplements state unemployment payments)
  • A new round of PPP for businesses who can demonstrate revenue loss. The number I’ve heard is a revenue loss of 50% over the prior year.
  • Additional low-interest loan funding via the SBA 7(a) loan program, specifically targeting underserved communities

I am not sure small businesses have much of an appetite for loans, however. The reason some $120 billion in PPP loans went unclaimed in the first round is because business owners were concerned about whether the amounts would be forgiven.

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Ben Worsley is Marketing & Creative Director at Masterplans

Tagged: startups, entrepreneurs, funding
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