Airbnb has grown quickly over the last several years, but there are still parts of its marketplace that are difficult to navigate.
Due to the nature of peer-to-peer rentals, guests never really know what to expect before stepping into a space that they’re renting. Meanwhile hosts have to worry about stuff like key handoff, cleaning, and the like, and many aren’t sure how they should price their listings.
A startup called Pillow (formerly Airenvy) thinks that it can help hosts address common issues, while also standardizing the experience for guests. To do so, the company has raised $2.65 million in funding to expand.
Currently available in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Napa, Pillow seeks to reduce the friction that comes in hosting and in renting out a space on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. On the host side, the company does a lot of the hard work related to things like cleaning, changing sheets, key handoff, and other ‘concierge’-type services that hosts might not be around to do.
Those are all things that Airbnb is trying to get hosts to do better, and it has toyed with the idea of offering those services as part of its platform.
Pillow does more than just provide property management in its efforts to provide value to hosts. It also manages their schedules for them, optimizes their listings with content and photos, and determines the best rates to charge based on the price of comparable listings nearby.
In fact, Pillow is so confident in its ability to maximize earnings that it’s guaranteeing a pre-determined minimum monthly income to those who sign up. To determine that number, it takes into account 85 different criteria including location, number of bedrooms, and amenities.
On the guest side, Pillow helps to ensure that their stay is as comfortable as possible. In addition to that cleaning stuff mentioned above, the company also standardized amenities (i.e. sheets and towels) and provides 24/7 guest support.
For all that, the company takes a 15 percent cut of rentals that are booked while it’s managing a property, which it claims is half of what some of its competitors charge.
Pillow was founded by Sean Conway and Justin Miller, who had previously founded a company called Notehall that sold to Chegg in 2011. The company raised $2.65 million in funding led by Homebrew Ventures, with participation from Sherpa Ventures, Boost Incubator, Tim Draper, Structure Capital, Michael Cheung, Edgar Berger, Justin Brown, Jack Abraham, Dave Kurtz, Lee Linden, Chris Hubbell, Julia French, Semil Shah, Expansion VC, Zach Aaron, Peak Ventures, and Brendan Wallace. With that funding, it plans to roll out to 10 U.S. markets over the next year.
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