US: Kiki Club [formerly EasyRent], an invite-only subletting platform that matches active listings with people looking for mid-term rentals, has launched in New York City.
After filling 1,500 homes in its debut launch in Bondi in Sydney, Australia, Kiki Club is aiming to fill a market need for a safe space to find trustworthy mid-term subletters for up to six months, in the wake of the implementation of strict short-term rental restrictions in New York City in September.
The startup recently closed a $6 million seed round to drive its global expansion plans. Kiki Club also says that it remains on track to fill more than 1,000 homes since its launch and that it can save New Yorkers up to $3.7 million in rent by the end of 2023.
Toby Thomas-Smith, co-founder and CEO of Kiki Club, said: “Before Kiki Club, people would post their place or room for rent on their Instagram story or in a Facebook group in hopes of finding someone to cover their rent while they’re away. But many folks’ social networks are only so big and this method opens up many to scammers.
“Being a part of Kiki Club, members gain access to thousands of friends-of-friends who they can immediately trust to take care of their place while they’re out of town,” he added.
Operating on an invite-only model, Kiki Club only allows people to become members themselves if they already know someone who is part of the network. In a city that is home to more than three million immigrants and has a large portion of residents working flexibly away from home, Kiki Club believes that it can help New York residents recoup their rent while they are not using their own space.
This exclusivity enables members to trust that the person they are hosting was referred by another credible user, giving renters peace of mind in sharing their home with an acquaintance rather than a complete stranger. Similar to dating apps, Kiki Club matches members with others that have similar personal traits and preferences.
To date, the club says that it has a 95 per cent success rate in perfect first-time matches among members.
Thomas-Smith said: “After witnessing our network’s impact in Sydney, we had to take the leap to a new market – and where better than New York City. The concept of Kiki Club is to match real people with real homes, not investment properties, to create real life-long connections. This helps people get their rent paid and plants watered by a friend-of-a-friend while being away from home – a totally different experience than Airbnb.
“We’re thrilled to save New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars in rent in the next few years,” he added.