Sunroom — an Austin-based real estate startup aimed at making the leasing process easier for real estate agents and property managers — announced Tuesday its secured an $11 million Series A round to expand its services across Texas.
The company was founded in 2018 by Ben Doherty and Zachary Maurais, high school best friends and the entrepreneurs behind the delivery app Favor. The journey from food delivery to rentals was actually a natural one, Doherty told Inman.
“We had thought about all of our past experiences leasing properties and thought, man that’s a space that reminds me a lot of food delivery,” Doherty said.
Popular delivery apps like GrubHub were extremely successful at getting menus online, but where Doherty believed they failed was with the actual process of delivering food and completing a transaction.
“We saw a similar situation here where there are all of these internet listing sites who spent the past decade just trying to get all the listings online,” Doherty said. “Now that’s done for the most part but yet the experience as a renter to try to get through the process of touring, applying and leasing a home, our observation was, ‘wow it’s actually a different process for almost every single type of property.'”
Sunroom partners directly with real estate agents and property managers who represent single-family rentals and multi-unit properties to essentially serve as their “leasing arm.”
Sunroom “helps streamline all of those aspects of their business so that they can just focus on growing their portfolio and getting a lot more landlord clients to work with,” Doherty said.
The rental industry has become more crowded as of late, with new models like “iRenters,” and major real estate tech players like Zillow and Redfin moving deeper into space. But those companies aren’t focusing on all aspects of the residential transaction, from search to touring and applying to signing the lease and moving in.
Rather there are tons of companies that focus on one specific aspect of the transaction, while the actual renter goes through a “whirlwind.”
“All the companies in that space, they didn’t seem to be really focused on the overall consumer experience because the renter doesn’t see it as five different steps,” Doherty said.
The company leases units five days faster than the market average, according to Doherty.
With the company’s series A funding, Sunroom plans to expand across Texas due to the synergy between all of the major Texas markets like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.
The company also plans to invest in its partner portal, where owners and property managers can access data and insights into leasing performance.