Flexible Housing Startup Anyplace Raises US$2.5M

3 June 2019

Anyplace, a startup offering furnished rooms and apartments to anyone who’s not interested in signing a long-term lease, is announcing that it has raised $2.5 million in seed funding.

CEO Satoru Steve Naito said he co-founded the company to meet his own needs as a “digital nomad” who likes to move from city to city every few months.

“I wanted this product for myself: I hate to commit to a long-term contract, and I want utilities and wifi taken care of when I secure a room,” Naito said.

For him, that meant moving into a hotel, where he said the rooms are “easy-to-book and fully furnished.” And while Naito’s far from the first person to call a hotel room home (I did it myself for a summer journalism internship back in 2006), with Anyplace,  he’s created an online marketplace where you can rent hotel rooms and other furnished housing on a month-to-month basis.

Naito said Anyplace normally negotiates a 30% to 50% discount with the hotels. (Checking the Anyplace website this morning, it looks like monthly prices in New York range from $1,331 to $4,157.) Those hotels then get a new source of monthly revenue, which may be particularly important as they try to compete with services like Airbnb.

And while the pitch might sound similar to a serviced apartment or a co-living space, Naito noted that Anyplace functions purely as an online marketplace, without operating any properties of its own. So it actually partners with apartments and co-living companies to bring them more renters.

Anyplace handles the booking and payment process, in return for collecting a 10 percent commission. It also reduces the risk for the hotel or property owner by performing basic background checks, and Naito also plans to introduce insurance that will cover eviction costs for up to $10,000.

And there are new features for renters in the works, including a “nomad loyalty program” that rewards frequent customers with things like airplane ticket discounts, and an online community to help you find friends when you’re in a new city.

“We don’t want to become boring housing rental marketplace,” Naito said. “We are not a housing business, we are a freedom business.”

When Naito and I met to discuss the funding, he estimated that there were around 100 people currently staying in Anyplace properties. He also said the service generated $1.3 million in bookings last year.

He acknowledged that while digital nomadism sounds appealing, it’s “a very niche and small group,” so Anyplace is also designed to serve anyone in need of temporary housing, whether they’re relocating for a new job, taking an extended business trip or moving somewhere for an internship.

The startup’s seed funding comes from Jason Calacanis, FundersClub, UpHonest Capital, East Ventures, Keisuke Honda, Kenji Kasahara Bora Uygun and Global Brain.

Source: TechCrunch