Startup of the week:
Who they are: Zently
What they do: Use automation to eliminate some of the day-to-day headaches of renting
Why it’s cool: Renting a home is already a nightmare in the Bay Area, where every year prices soar higher and competition gets more intense for the few available houses and apartments. Yet plenty of people are stuck renting because they don’t have the cash to buy a home — almost 80 percent of millennials in the San Jose area rent, according to a report by Abodo.
Redwood City-based Zently wants to take away some of that pain by making it easier to live with roommates — which is the only way many can afford to live in the Bay Area. The Zently app automatically pays your rent, splits bills between you and your roommates, and alerts your landlord when something needs to be fixed.
When you connect the app to your bank account, it begins automatically flagging housing-related expenses — like grocery and utility bills — and then sends charge requests to your roommates for their share. If everyone approves the charges, the app adds or subtracts the amount from everyone’s monthly rent contribution. And the app automatically pays your landlord each month — either online, or, if your landlord is more old-school, it mails them a paper check at no extra charge.
Zently also can come to the rescue if your washing machine is making funny noises, or your sink is leaking, by sending a repair request directly to your landlord. And the landlord can use the app to quickly request quotes from thousands of plumbers, electricians, repairmen, and more — making it faster and easier to get things fixed.
The app is free for renters, but it also offers landlords a property management service for $49 a month — which co-founder and CEO Sachit Kamat says is up to 70 percent cheaper than traditional firms. That’s a savings he’s now seeing landlords pass on to their tenants.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Kamat said, “is bring down the cost of renting.”
Where they stand: Zently launched in July and is now available throughout the Bay Area. The company raised $1.6 million in seed funding over the summer, and is growing at about 200 percent month over month, Kamat said.
Learn more at zently.com.
What will they think of next?
Packing a lunch seems like a simple activity — throw a peanut butter sandwich, an apple and some cookies in a paper bag and you’re good to go.
But a new San Francisco-based startup is adding a high-tech spin to the task. Teuko’s online platform offers a social community where you can trade lunch-packing tips with other people, a platform to store and track your lunch ideas, an automatically generated grocery list and optional grocery delivery.
Think of it as Pinterest meets Instacart.
“If you pack lunch boxes, Teuko was made for you,” the website says. “We connect lunchbox makers and enhance their lunch packing experience.”
Teuko’s services were on display Monday at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. To learn more or sign up, visit teuko.com.
Diversity in tech advocate Ellen Pao weighed in Wednesday on the creation of the “tech bro.” The Silicon Valley scene shifted from “nerd culture” to “frat culture” around 2008, when no one wanted to work on Wall Street anymore, Pao said during an appearance on The Daily Show to promote her new book, “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change.” At the same time, people started making a ton of money in tech.
“At some point people stopped going to Wall Street and they started coming to Silicon Valley,” she said. “And that culture of greed, that kind of cool frat boy culture, came into Silicon Valley.”
Image: The Zently app automatically pays your rent, splits your bills among your roommates and alerts your landlord to maintenance issues. (Courtesy of Zently)