Many people used their newfound freedom to live in other places during the pandemic and shift towards remote work.
Zeus Living is one startup that could benefit from all of this. It is a startup that offers flexible living options for people and just raised $55million in a round led SIG.
Initialized Capital, CEAS Investments and TI Platform were also involved in financing. This brings the total amount raised by startups to $125 millions. Although the company did not disclose its current valuation, it was valued at $205 million at its most recent raise in 2019.
Zeus Living was founded in 1992 by renovating landlords' homes and renting furnished properties to workers who were moving into a new type or corporate housing. It has evolved to a company that offers people more flexibility and less commitment than corporate employees.
Kulveer Taggar, CEO, stated that we have been providing homes for people who travel for work and grandparents who spend extended time with grandbabies. We also provide homes for people looking for healthcare or families renovating their homes. We have surpassed corporate housing over the last 18 months and now offer beautifully designed homes at fair prices, flexible terms and in the places that residents want to live.
This is a great comeback story considering that Zeus Living, which was responsible for the outbreak of the pandemic in 2001, laid off approximately 80 employees, or 30%, of its workforce. The demand is high.
Zeus Living claims that it witnessed a 6x rise in residents signing leases without a predetermined end date for an average stay at 129 nights over the past year, as evidence of the pandemic.
Taggar believes that there is a new American Dream, and it doesn't require someone buying a home to symbolize their success.
TechCrunch spoke to him that the goal or dream of this new generation doesn't necessarily relate to purchasing a home. They want to make investments in the experiences and possessions of others. They want to be mobile. They want to be more mobile without a lot of hassle and headaches.
Zeus Living provided 2,400 homes to homeowners on its website in 2019. It also partnered with homeowners to manage and rent out their properties. The site now has nearly 5,000 homes across 96 U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Miami, Portland, and Austin. The occupancy rate is 87%, up from 82% in 2020. Revpar, which measures the revenue it generates for homeowners whose properties it manages, has increased 21% compared with last year.
Residents have spent more than 1.4 million nights with Zeus over the years, 811,562 of which were during the pandemic. The company has a total of $250 million in annual bookings.
According to Taggar, some of those laid off have been hired back since the March 2020 layoffs. It still has 122 employees, which is a bit low compared to the rest of the company.
It emphasizes that, unlike Airbnb's investor Airbnb, it isn't a marketplace. Instead, the company manages its homes from curation through design to property management and services. Its homes are priced for 30-day stays, not overnight. Zeus can use Airbnb to find accommodation.
Taggar explained that Zeus allows users to browse thousands of homes and choose the dates they wish to stay there, regardless of whether they are staying for five weeks or five years. All this can be done from their smartphone. The residents don't have to install utilities or Wi-Fi. Zeus will also take care of this.
He said that you can be flexible and give notice up to two weeks in advance. You can be confident that you will have a great experience because Zeus has done the hard work of creating the home. After inspecting it, we are confident that it is safe. Then, we will make it more comfortable for you to live.
According to Taggar, Zeus had been growing revenue by 3-4x per year since its inception in 2015. However, the company experienced a temporary slowdown when the pandemic hit.
He said that we were going back to the original path. Even though the operations that make it all happen are complex and involved,
The company sees the future and plans to make use of its new capital to support growth and expansion.
Taggar explained to TechCrunch that because supply was limited in all our markets, he and his team want more homes. We want to continue investing in and improving the online experience for both our residents and homeowners.
He said that Zeus Living had received $40 million in unmet customer demand over the past twelve months.
He said that we know where people want and what they are willing to pay for flexible living.
Garry Tan, the founder and managing partner at Initialized Capital is a repeat investor. He has led the Series A and seed rounds of Zeus Living and also invested in its Series B, C and C financings.
Tan thinks that property management is in the same spot as taxi companies before ride-hailing.
Zeus Living is, he says, a property owner's dream come true. It also helps meet the demand for flexible living options in some of the most desirable markets.
He told TechCrunch that they are entering a new phase in which people don't have to live in just a few cities. It's possible to be anywhere in the nation. FlexLiving makes this possibility even more accessible.
Tans believes that Zeus is even more unique because it can find properties in desirable locations in towns that not only residents but also tourists know about. This allows them to live as if they were locals.
Tan stated that it is actually more difficult to find these locations. It also makes it much more lucrative, as customers are also interested in being there.
Zeus Living isn't the only one in flexible rental. The Guild, a startup based in Austin, Texas that converts apartments into short-term accommodation for business and travelers, raised $25 million in a Series B funding round in January 2020. Sonder, a hospitality startup that rents apartments to be rented out, raised $170 million last June at a valuation of $1.3 billion. However it is important to remember that Sonder might not be as well-known as Airbnb.