Anyplace, a marketplace startup that offers people find flexible-term furnished housing, aims to draw digital nomads and other temporary residents to the fold. A recent email outreach from their PR company (EZPR) prompted the following early assessment.
Started back in 2015 with angel capital from East Ventures, Anyplace works with extended stay hotels, serviced apartments, furnished rentals, and co-living companies to supply turn-key mid-term accommodations, has just raised another $2.5 million. The round, headed by UpHonest, FundersClub, East Ventures, and others, should extend the startups reach.
The startup, which prides itself on its B2C core logic, is being billed as a predictability value over Airbnb and other shared property innovations. With a growing roster of longer-term stays from San Francisco to Guadalajara in Mexico, the company says they're looking to expand to Europe and Asia by 2020. This may, in fact, come to pass, but "listing"
50+ properties in 9 cities for any rental marketplace should not be seen as a market takeover. The market for such an endeavor exists, but here's where I see Anyplace in the current scheme of things.
The website traffic numbers at Anyplace do not speak of massive volumes of business people relocating at Anyplace offerings, but this says nothing for the company's mobile app numbers. But, 6 reviews at the iTunes app store do indicate slow uptake, however. A slim Facebook (under 500 likes) presence, along with one social post per 3 months does not a modern digital age game changer make. Ditto for Twitter (111 followers), Instagram (35 subscribers - no posts), and LinkedIn (No posts). The lack of effort here is symbolic of companies I've seen hit the TechCrunch "dead pool" before.
In addition, the fact the Anyplace team is searching for backend and full-stack engineers willing who are founding members does not bode well for the extended development this far into the funding. What this means to me is that the CTO and co-founder Kouichi Tanaka is probably doing most of the app and backend development with a very small team. And while this is not a bad thing, it is not $2.5 million dollar investment level staffing. Looking at LinkedIn profiles for Anyplace employees I found the front-end user interface developer, a freelancer from Germany named Martin Broder, iOS engineer Arpit Agarwal, and front-end developer, Michal Ittah of the 17 employees listed for the startup.
I hate pouring cold water on a PR outreach since I once owned one of Europe's most successful boutique hotel tech PR companies, but there's some homework left to do at Anyplace, PR and otherwise. Short version, Anyplace needs to step up its game now. The fact they closed this round in 2018 and are only now reaching out for media is another negative for anybody who looks close. Given the massive potential for Alt Living innovations, Anyplace has a big potential, so my cautions should be taken with a grain of industrial salt.
This report at NFX reveals the positive side for Anyplace's founder and investors. Lifestyle shifts, non-traditional transactions, technology empowered markets, and so forth - make Anyplace a good prospect. The downside is the lack of commitment of both funding and human resource. One thing I really like about this startup is its B2C heart - which flies in the face of Airbnb and the customary access economy giants. In my former business, hoteliers were literally freaking out over lost business to Airbnb. Anyplace-like value can mitigate at least some of this lost revenue. But that's far off in my view, at a point when this startup has $100 million in funding and 25,000 Facebook fans.
As it stands, Anyplace needs a solid product, a solid marketing team, and a tech PR firm listed at O'dwyer's if they can afford it. A final note, an old associate of mine, Jason Calacanis of East Ventures, has invested in some of the most successful startups in Silicon Valley history including; Uber, Facebook, and many others. One of Silicon Valley's most ethical and intelligent investors, I'm surprised Anyplace is not farther along. Jason, get these boys some help, will you?