One of the interesting trends I've been noticing in the startup world lately is on-demand services. In San Francisco, companies like Sprig with on-demand healthy food to the many companies that are on-demand dating platforms, it's apparent as a society we want everything faster and in a more convenient manner.
While most of us cringe at the phrase "on-demand," its become a significant part of our culture. Whether we like it or not, companies serving this economy have seen explosive growth and technology companies seem to think there is an endless supply of opportunities to nail it like Uber. Whether or not they use "on-demand" as part of their value proposition, it's clear everything is available a mouse click or download away. We have home cooked meals with Munchery, laundry with Rinse and Washio, interior design with Laurel & Wolf and cocktails with Saucey. Now, this company is adding housing to the list.
I spoke with David Adams, Founder & CEO of HomeSuite, one of the newest startups catering to our societies need for immediacy. HomeSuite is a company that provides short-term and mid-term rentals - you guessed it - on demand. Hearing from David, I got the sense that they have created a niche company in a crowded landscape, simply by using legitimacy and the already legal month-long term. A rep for HomeSuite helped me understand how it works and differs from Airbnb. She explains, "if you are going away for a night or two, you use a hotel. For a week or two, you might Airbnb, but for a month or two? That's where you would use HomeSuite."
When you think about it, the housing market itself is an old industry. But, so was liquor. And interior design. And taxis. David says it best, "think about the status quo in housing. There is an opaque and drawn out leasing process, required long leases, the need to self-furnish and turn on utilities yourself, to move everything in and to get it set up. We have a clear, quick booking process, we provide monthly leases, and we handle all of the traditional hassles that come with moving." But are people flocking to this kind of service? Sounds like it. In only a few short months, HomeSuite says they have around 3k active users and in some of the most notoriously housing-challenged cities in the world: Los Angeles, San Francisco & Bay Area and New York City.
How do they do this? Similar to apps like Uber or Saucey, they have their own network. Instead of a driver or delivery force, they have real estate brokers. HomeSuite also does not need feet on the ground in every zone. According to David, this was an intentional trade-off. They have opted to provide the most curated experience by thoroughly vetting both prospective tenants and property owners. This is part of their special sauce or what makes HomeSuite attractive to both parties. He continued, "users know they won't have any issues securing a legit rental for their stay, and property owners are guaranteed the money for the lease term."
HomeSuite is not alone. Airbnb and HomeAway have both started moving in on this model. Airbnb has launched Corporate housing options and HomeAway has started touting month-long lease terms with some of their properties. This doesn't seem to make David lose any sleep. HomeSuite is primarily targeted to corporate housing, internships, people who want to try out a new part of the city before settling in on an apartment. HomeAway and Airbnb gear toward vacationers.
As more and more people look to implementing on-demand companies in their lives, it will be interesting to see what other industries on-demand will affect. The greater question will be how these companies affect us long-term. Are there major risks in having a society obsessed with getting what we want in the fastest way possible? Will companies that save us time allow us to use extra hours to innovate, or are moments of boredom helpful for us to have time to reflect? Only time will tell, but my guess is we'll see many more companies like HomeSuite before we find out the answer.