US: Online marketplace Swimply, which enables homeowners to rent out their amenities such as swimming pools and tennis courts to individuals on an hourly basis, is diversifying its offering into full-home rentals.
At the back end of 2023, the startup also carried out a reshuffle of its senior team, which included chief operating officer Derek Callow replacing co-founder Bunim Laskin as CEO. Laskin now remains as a board member alongside fellow co-founder Asher Weinberger.
Swimply was founded in 2019 as the first online marketplace for pool sharing, providing “widespread access to a luxury previously reserved for a select few”. However, the platform expanded into offering short-term rental options for recreational sport courts last year [including tennis, pickleball and basketball], and following user feedback, it now also lists a selection of full-home rental properties that can be rented out by the hour for a range of purposes such as wedding proposals, corporate retreats, dinner parties and family gatherings.
Although the company’s full-home rental option is only currently available in its home market of Los Angeles, Swimply has grown its other core rental services across the United States, Canada and Australia to the point that the platform now offers more than 25,000 listings.
Swimply CEO Derek Callow told LA Business Journal: “Swimply is very much about being ‘by neighbours, for neighbours’, and Los Angeles is incredible, but it’s not always swimming weather. We noticed this great growth when we expanded into tennis, pickleball and basketball courts, and backyards have always been on our platform, so indoor spaces was a logical extension.”
Callow added that Swimply’s offering differed to Airbnb due to its focus on “fractional” home ownership and hourly rental offering which is designed to offer less disruption to neighbours and communities.
To date, Swimply has raised around $51.2 million in funding, including a $40 million Series A round three years ago, and it brought in an estimated $25 million in revenue in 2022 as communities opened up again after the pandemic. Hosts decide their rental costs based on a number of factors, ranging from location to demand, property features and amenities, and the number of guests in a party, while they also have the option of charging guests for a cleaning service.
Like companies such as Airbnb, though, Swimply has also been met with calls from communities and neighbours to regulate or even ban the platform over concerns around safety, noise, anti-social behaviour and alleged land use violations. To counter this, the startup introduced a ‘Good Neighbour’ policy to enable hosts and neighbours to work together and empower neighbours to report hosts that violate the platform’s community rules.
According to Callow, Swimply is looking at plans to introduce its full-home rental offering to other markets beyond Los Angeles in the near future, as well as expanding its other core rental services into other domestic and international markets.