Apartment startup Blueground raises $20m in funding round

Worldwide: Blueground, a startup which provides turnkey flexible rental apartments, has raised $20 million in a funding round led by Athens-based VentureFriends.

The round was also led with participation from Endeavor Catalyst, Dubai’s Jabbar Internet Group and entrepreneur Kevin Ryan. Ryan, who previously founded MongoDB, Gilt Groupe and Zola, will now join Blueground’s board of directors.

At a time when remote work and business travel are becoming increasing trends, more and more travellers are turning to companies such as Blueground in search of flexible short-term accommodation options, rather than opting for long-term rental or lease commitments.

Blueground now aims to be the go-to option for individuals moving or travelling to a city for as little as a month’s duration, depending on a traveller’s preference. The startup company partners with major property owners to sign long-term leases for units before furnishing and renting them out on more flexible terms.

Users can rent listings for anywhere between one month to five years, with rates set on a monthly basis. This can lead to more favourable prices over medium-to-long-term stays relative to short-term pricing arrangements that hospitality companies often use.

Blueground CEO Alex Chatzieleftheriou said that before setting the company, he had constantly felt the frustration and mental strain of not having a stable personal living arrangement.

He told TechCrunch: “I spent so much time in hotels but they never really resembled a home. They didn’t have enough space or enough privacy but renting an apartment can be a huge pain in these cities.

“They can be hard to find, they usually have a minimum rental term of a year or more, and you usually have to deal with filling out paperwork and buying furniture,” he added.

After discovering that thousands of property in his company alone were facing the same struggles, Chatzieleftheriou launched Blueground, which initially listed a handful of apartments in his home city of Athens.

Chatzieleftheriou and his team set about structuring the platform to make the rental process as seamless as possible to accommodate the needs of flexible renters like himself. Through a quick plug-and-play checkout flow, renters can secure an apartment without enduring a time-consuming rental process.

Tenants also have the possibility to switch to any other Blueground listing during their rental period if their preferences change or if they want to explore different locations during their stay.

Every Blueground listing is furnished by the company’s design team and comes outfitted with digital and connected infrastructure so that tenants can monitor their apartment and arrange maintenance, housekeeping and other services directly through Blueground’s mobile rental app.

Chatzieleftheriou initially prioritised serving business travellers and those moving for work, but he quickly realised the market for flexible leasing was growing at a rapid rate. Since then, the company’s sales have tripled over the past three years and following its expansion in the U.S. last year, its platform now hosts 1,700 listings in 10 cities across three continents.

Chatzieleftheriou said: “The trend of flexible and seamless real estate is bigger and is happening everywhere. A lot of people throughout the real estate sector really want this seamless, turnkey, furnished solution.”

At the time of writing, Blueground has raised a total of $28 million and plans to use the funds from the latest round to add to its workforce and to help the company reach its goal of growing its portfolio to 50,000 units in the next five years.

For more information, visit the Blueground website here.