Need a place for just a few months? Startup to fill void between HomeAway and apartment hunters

Need a place for just a few months? Startup to fill void between HomeAway and apartment hunters

An Austin entrepreneur plans to launch a sublet marketplace later this month for homes and apartments between the short-term and long-term categories.

CEO Vi Nguyen has co-founded Homads Inc., an online marketplace for sublets that’s been beta testing since since October. In contrast to other rental marketplaces such as HomeAway Inc. and AirBnB Inc., Homads focuses on stays of a month or more versus daily rentals and a different fee structure, she said.

Instead of the home lister paying 12 percent or 13 percent of the rental price, a total 12 percent fee is split evenly between the lister and the renter.

“The biggest thing for us is distinguishing that we’re not AirBnB,” Nguyen told Austin Business Journal. “It’s a completely different marketplace.”

Nguyen got the idea in March 2014 for Homads — a name that’s a contraction of the words “home” and “nomads” — when she received a notice from Austin officials warning that she was violating city laws by operating without a short-term rental license for renting out her condominium during the South By Southwest festival.

Nguyen then looked for a website to list her condo as a rental beyond the short-term limit of 30 days but not for the conventional annual lease. She then decided to create Homads when nothing fit the bill.

Nguyen and co-founder Lan Chu, who came on board in April 2014, have raised $21,000 from angel investors to develop the online platform. The site attracted 65 users during beta testing.

The typical customer is a person moving to Austin and looking for a place to stay while considering a more permanent residence, Nguyen said. That’s a pretty large market — most estimates peg more than 100 newcomers a day to Central Texas. Homads is also in the process of developing a rating and review system. It also plans to develop a system for reporting needed repairs in addition to insurance and screening services to protect homeowners and renters.

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