Zently rental app raises $1.6 million to launch its rent-sharing app

zently
In cities like San Francisco, a single room for rent can go for thousands of dollars, which means most people need roommates or drastically alternative living arrangements in order to get by. Now a new app is aiming to help roommates keep the peace and make rent on time. Zently aims to make paying the rent on time seamless, help flag maintenance issues more quickly, and now allows roommates to split utility bills and other expenses in addition to the rent.

The latest update to the Zently app not only simplifies the rent payment process but also now allows roommates to easily reconcile shared expenses such as utilities or groceries. The app can collect rent from multiple roommates in one place, giving the new app a leg up over competitors like PayPal, Venmo or Square Cash. The app is currently available for free on the Apple Store and Google Play Store.

The app is specifically targeted toward markets like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle and other high-tech, high-density cities where a large number of renters under 30 have roommates. The Zently app hooks up with a renter’s bank account to scan for shared bills like utilities and reconcile bills once the month ends. Zently will even remind roommates if they haven’t paid a bill on time.

The app’s functionality also targets a renter’s need for maintenance issues in a unique way. The app uses a chat-based interface that allows Zently renters to categorize their maintenance request, take a photo of the problem, and submit it to their landlords. But before that step, the app also guides renters through helpful tips and how-to videos to solve common problems such as clogged drains or nonfunctioning garbage disposals.

The startup is augmenting this function with a 24/7 Premium Concierge Service that makes it easier for landlords to find plumbers, electricians, or generalist handymen. The Premium Concierge also allows access to Zently’s market dynamics studies as well as recommendations on pricing, property fixes, and other upgrades to make the rental property more attractive to tenants.

zently rental app 2The founders have constructed their model, currently in beta testing, to focus primarily on the renter. By distributing the app for free to renters, the company hopes to reverse-engineer the market for landlords.

Zently’s model offers three pricing tiers for landlords including a free base model that only processes rent checks or direct deposits;  Zently Helper for $49 per month, which features a “Designated Property Helper” package that includes maintenance, rent collection and best practices for lease writing, rental rates and evictions; and Zently Premium for $89 plus $10 per bedroom that includes services to help landlords find renters as well as credit and criminal background checks. Zently is also planning to implement a “smart dashboard” for landlords that includes at-a-glance access to vital information like taxes and local rental rates.

Based out of the flourishing startup market in Redwood City, California, Zently has already raised $1.6 million in equity funding during two rounds from a total of 15 investors, led by Montage Ventures, Oberndorf Ventures, and several strategic investors in the lucrative Bay Area real estate market. Founders Sachit Kamat and Aleksandr Movsesyan are LinkedIn veterans with a few other entrepreneurial ventures in their history.

Zently is entering a fiercely competitive market, facing not only financial apps from behemoths like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Capital One but also other rental platforms like Venmo, Homeaway, and OneRent, not to mention niche services like Cribspot, Loftsmart and Trulia’s Room for Rent.

Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

These 30 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find for the latest MacOS and how they can help out your…
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

Picture this: The Aura packs thousands of photos in a single frame (for a price)

Are you one of those people who miss the good old days of flipping through photo albums to see each and every favorite photo? If so, you might love the Aura digital photo frame. We tested the device and came away impressed.
Smart Home

This old-school bus is now a solar-powered home on wheels

Michael Fuehrer of Nowhere Navigation decided to gut an old yellow school bus and turned it into a tiny home on wheels, complete with a full kitchen and shower inside and a solar panel on top.
Smart Home

Cloud slime, butter slime, scented slime -- we have your next DIY project covered

We researched dozens of different ingredients and tried several slime recipes. While some recipes are generally pretty safe, others are questionable at best. Which recipes should you use, and which should you avoid?
Product Review

Tovala cooks delicious, idiotproof meals healthier than takeout. For a price

The Tovala Steam Oven is a countertop appliance that can serve up dinner in about 20 minutes with zero prep. The drawback is that the ready-to-heat meals, while tasty, are $12 each.
News

Drinkworks and Keurig have created a pod-based cocktail machine

HomeBar, a collaboration between Drinkworks and Keurig, creates cocktails the easy way. The machine creates mixed drinks of all kinds. All you have to do is insert in the pod for the drink you want.