Meet the co-founders of Sunroom, Zac Maurais and Ben Doherty, the former founders of the Texas-based food delivery app, Favor. After launching the app in 2012, and $34M later in funding, Favor was acquired by the grocery chain H-E-B in 2017. But how did two guys who started in food delivery wind up in real estate?
Ben and Zac have been renters for over ten years and have experienced the challenges first hand, “Most real estate agents want to focus on selling homes, because it’s more lucrative than the rental market. I’ve had difficult landlords and have dealt with non responsive agents when trying to find a place to rent. We knew the process could be much better.” – Ben
They realized that the same on-demand, instant-satisfaction, and no-touch service model used to build Favor could be applied to home and apartment rentals. “Long term rentals represent a massive yet antiquated space that needs a fresh perspective,” – Zac, “44.1 million households are renters, and coupled with the fact that the majority of those renters are Millennials and Generation Z, the most technologically fluent generations, it only makes sense that a fully digital leasing platform is the next disruptor in the market.”
And so, Sunroom Rentals was founded in 2018, with one goal in mind: to make home and apartment rentals as easy as booking a hotel room; and that’s exactly what Sunroom has accomplished. Everything is aimed at bringing transparency and efficiency to the entire rental process. With Sunroom’s technology and proprietary “Sunlocks”, users can tour listings, apply online, and sign their lease entirely through the Sunroom app. Renters can choose when and how they tour properties (after work, on a lunch break, Sunday mornings) with no agent or appointment necessary. With this Uber-like technology, Sunroom has given them the power to adapt the leasing process to their schedule, rather than adapting to the schedule of agents or property managers. The same way Sunroom is streamlining the renter side of the leasing process, they’re doing the same for the partner side:
“We’re leasing units 5 days faster than the market average,” said Ben. “For property managers and apartment owners, growing your portfolio while maintaining quality service is very challenging. Partnering with Sunroom gives property managers the ability to grow their portfolio quickly while improving leasing performance and providing a much better experience for renters. We’re proud to have a 65 net promoter score amongst renters when the industry average is an 8. We’ve made a traditionally laborious process simple and fun!”
Through the Sunroom app, partners have control over settings like renter qualifications, pet policy, and price. They are able to see real-time data of listings, review tour feedback, and make any adjustments necessary to the property. Where managers were previously responsible for activities like photography, advertising, marketing, applications and yard-signs, Sunroom has taken over that responsibility. They have a full-service team ready to get your listing live as soon as possible. Partners can even connect a bank account through the app to receive security deposits. Each step in the leasing process has been made much more efficient, creating a more positive experience for all parties.
Just earlier this year, Sunroom announced $11M in Series A funding, led by Gigafund. The company will use the funding to expand across Texas, and continue to bring transparency and efficiency to the entire leasing process. (View the full list of Sunroom’s investors at the end of this article.)
COVID-19 has accelerated the need for contactless, self-showing and virtual tours, forcing apartments and property managers to adapt to a new way of digital leasing. “Although this trend started in 2020, we believe that it’s here to stay,” said Zac. “Renters want an entirely mobile-first approach. Properties are looking for an edge to keep their units fully occupied.”
Sunroom brings a new level of transparency and efficiency to the entire leasing process that hasn’t been seen before. Managers are able to view real-time metrics of their listings, and renters are able to take back some control in their home/apartment search. The entire process is much more user-friendly and much less physically demanding, and Sunroom’s success at reinventing a traditional industry speaks for itself.
The future of leasing is here, and Sunroom is just getting started.
Full List of Sunroom Investors 2021:
Gigafund, NextGen Venture Partners, Calpoly Ventures, and prominent angel investors and operators like Gokul Rajaram (Google & Square), Judd Schoenholtz (Open Listings), Josh Stech (Sundae), Jessica Chang (Weecare & Radpad), and Tim Heyl (Homeward). Existing investors include Founders Fund Angel, Draper Associates, Boost VC, Capital Factory and angels like Jaspar Weir & Bryce Maddock (TaskUs), Justin Robinson (Drizly), Jag Bath (Favor Delivery), Lisa Falzone (Revel), Pat Matthews (Active Capital), Justin Miller (Pillow), Tarun Nimmagadda (Ruckit) and John Berkowitz (OJO Labs).