Charleston startup lands ‘significant’ investment to help with tenant affordability | Real estate
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CoLife matches tenants with landlords looking to rent a room for less than the cost of the apartment
A Charleston startup trying to build a modern version of the old pension model recently received “significant investment” from a West Coast venture capital firm as well as other funding from Lowcountry investors. .
CoLife founder and CEO Derek Snook declined to disclose the amount invested in his business to help with the high cost of renting in Charleston, but said the amount was in the six figures. Most of it was provided by San Francisco-based Platform Venture Studio, which was co-founded by former Sequoia Capital partner Tim Connors.
Sequoia invested early in many large companies, the most notable being Google, Youtube, Apple, Whatsapp, Paypal, Instagram, Linkedin, Oracle and Zoom.
Snook also said another six-figure amount came from investors in the Charleston area as well as others across the country. “About 12% came from local investors,” he said.
The money will be used to help expand the business and add a full-time software developer and marketing representative.
CoLife started with around $60,000 in late 2019 and eventually recruited around 400 homeowners interested in renting a bedroom in their owner-occupied homes. The effort resulted in approximately 100 matches between a tenant and a landlord.
Snook said that when the money ran out, registrations plummeted and he had to turn to raising additional funds to keep the business running.
He thinks the new capital injection will result in around 2,500 homeowners signing up to participate with up to 500 matches that place a tenant in a home.
“We’re a big solution to Charleston’s housing crisis,” he said, pointing to skyrocketing home prices and escalating rental rates.
He noted that thousands of homes in the Charleston area have furnished bedrooms that are not being used and said the program helps people rent a room for less money than a traditional apartment with the added benefits of not having to live alone and make new friends.
The online platform connects potential tenants looking for furnished rooms with landlords willing to rent space and earn extra money.
Homeowners register with the company online and undergo a background check, offering a room in their home for a set price, including utilities.
Potential tenants register and fill in what they are looking for in a cohabitation space.
If there is a match, CoLife connects the client with a landlord and they chat online or on the phone before meeting in person to get a feel for each other.
The $75 background check fee is refundable if no match is identified. The CoLife service fee is $99 to $199 depending on length of stay, which must be at least one month. It is also refunded if the arrangement does not work within 30 days.
Landlords registered with CoLife typically charge between $600 and $1,000 per month for rent. Utilities are included, there is no security deposit and the room is already furnished.
There is a downside to the arrangement. Renters must weigh the loss of privacy of not living alone against the amount of money they could save.
“In addition to being much more affordable, furnished and flexible, you also get an automatic friend,” Snook said. “We’re reimagining the modern boarding house…and we only work with owners who live in the residence.”
Visit colife.fit for more information.
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By the numbers
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2: Number of new candy stores en route to the Charleston area.
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