Swimply can be the ultimate expression of the sharing economy. The company’s business model is based on renting a person’s swimming pool for a swim or renting out your own pool or backyard to strangers.
The idea may not be as crazy as it sounds. There is always a need for recreation, but in the last two years, many public pools and other recreational opportunities were closed by COVID, while few people traveled. Swimply lets you ‘escape locally’.
Swimply, which likes to call itself Airbnb for swimming pools, was launched in 2018. The company says it has over 20,000 pools available on the platform in all 50 states of Canada and Australia.
The Swimply business proposal is simple; it charges 15% of the booking fee from the hosts and a further 10% from the guests. Venture capitalists seem to like the concept, as Swimply has secured $ 11.2 million so far. In Series A financing.
“As the largest swimming pool rental platform in the world, we see a huge market opportunity here when people are looking for experiences with their families and friends that they cannot get at home. In fact, our motto ‘Escape Local’ offers unique access to private pools nearby, says -Sonny Mayugba, VP of Growth at Swimply. He added: “Interestingly, we’ve also seen our customers use Swimply while traveling to enjoy the great outdoors. For example, this pool in Temecula would end a perfect day of wine tasting in California’s wine country.”
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Will a pool sharing app like Swimply actually fly? Much of the sharing economy is based on owners renting personal property to others through a third party. Airbnb alone has over 7 million home directories worldwide. Turo and Getaround peer-to-peer car sharing (a smart way of saying renting your personal car to strangers) has proven to be an instant money maker for the locals in car rental company Hawaii. Tulerie lets you share one of the most personal things you own, your clothes; “Borrow clothes from one person, lend your clothes to another.”
Swimply says there are more than 10 million pools in the United States, but 96% of Americans do not have access to one. With the average pool owner using their pool only 15% of the time, Swimply, which claims 4000% growth since last year, sees an available resource just begging to be rented out. Their pitch is that these surprisingly affordable rentals (in Los Angeles start at around $ 45 an hour) provide the chance to spend pool time with friends and family. A pool is even located on an actual castle.
Rates for renting a pool seemed low ($ 30 an hour in Houston, $ 45 in Los Angeles). Would it be worth the risk and hassle for a homeowner to list? According to a spokesman, Swimply pool owners earn on average around $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 a month. A recent Wall Street Journal story claimed that a Swimply host in Portland could earn $ 111,000 this summer.
I asked Swimply about the potential nightmare of liability from a swimming or diving accident from strangers using one’s backyard pool.
A spokesman noted that Swimply has a trust and security policy. Hosts are entitled to up to $ 1,000,000 in applicable insurance coverage coverage when a guest is injured during a Swimply reservation. “The program provides protection in the unfortunate situation that a guest files a lawsuit or claim against a host for bodily injury that occurs during a Swimply reservation. The coverage may also cover any defense costs in the event of a legal dispute for which Swimply and Swimply’s registered hosts are legally responsible. “Of course there are conditions for coverage.
What if you rent your pool for a party with party animals? Swimply states that hosts are entitled to up to $ 10,000 (subject to certain conditions) if a host’s pool or property is damaged during a Swimply reservation and the guest is unwilling or unable to pay for the damage.
Swimply says its main rental policy is “your pools, your rules” on such issues as to whether alcohol, glass (always problematic around pools) or smoking are allowed on the property. Guests booking at Swimply book a certain number of people on the platform for events such as family reunions, gender revelations, swimming lessons, aerobic exercise, etc.
Pool owners can refuse bookings if they are not familiar with a “party” atmosphere. In July, the company said it banned “for all parties and events on Swimply directories, marketed events with ticket sales or admission fees, bringing DJs or outside of sound systems and / or offering cash bars. We also impose an immediate ban on parties where guests bring drugs or weapons. ”
There seems to be a certain amount of give and take in the pool rental world. Offering a toilet, for example, is “completely optional”. If no bathroom is offered, Swimply limits the booking time to one hour. However, a spokesman noted that “Most hosts provide a restroom as it allows them to charge more per hour and accept longer bookings.”
The homeowner can choose to be at home or not for the reservation. (What could go wrong?) But Swimply has found that 80% of homeowners choose to stay home to share their pool secrets with their guests.
But summer is coming to an end. What will Swimply (and its investors) do when the fall cooling drives potential pool landlords away?
The company says it will promote hot tubs as well as heated and indoor pools that are on the platform this fall.
Swimply also plans to launch what it calls “Joyspace.” Joyspace will allow consumers to rent their basketball courts, tennis courts, barbecue / fire pitches, private gyms, indoor home theater, even a backyard game. If you are a potential tenant or host of a fun part of your house, the waiting list is here.