Tenant King is a private community and classified website for New Yorkers built by New Yorkers. Currently available in 5 neighborhoods in Manhattan and Long Island City, this startup is looking to strengthen and often build a community within the endless skyline of high rises that dominate the housing market in NYC. The company already has 400 buildings on its platform and is expanding. Each user on the platform is verified before they are given access to the site that supports a marketplace as well as a flexible online community.
Today, we sit down with Mihkel Noormagi, Co-Founder & CEO of Tenant King to discuss the business and the NYC community classified market.
Tell us about the product or service.
We started Tenant King by imagining how modern technology could bring neighbors closer together and make the co-existence more efficient. Given the fact that our team members are living in NYC high-rises, we have hands on experience with the daily troubles of our users. We wanted to create a tool that would solve many of these issues.
Sell your camera that you’re not using anymore or announce a move-out sale. Find a local babysitter for the night. Share your troubles about your management company. Organize sports and fun events—these are just a couple of examples of how our users are leveraging the tool we’ve given them.
We designed Tenant King not only to be capable of verifying your real neighbors but to create an experience that is simple, useful and enjoyable, while keeping everything redundant out of sight. Simplicity is actually pretty complicated—making complex things look simple takes time and effort. We worked for nearly 18 months on the concept and 6 months on the backend and user interface of Tenant King before launching the first public beta. When you join Tenant King, you will already know how it works.
How is it different?
Tenant King is built for vertical cities and features two circles of engagement – your building and your neighborhood. We have a strict verification policy, meaning that anyone on your circles is an actual neighbor. Tenant King has a bottom to top approach and publishes each post instantly, as opposed to other solutions, where posts are being censored by the management company and often not published at all.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are targeting the peer-to-peer commerce market in NYC, including its 5 boroughs. Our primary focus is Manhattan and its 1.6 million urban dwellers, but we are also planning to cover other dense urban clusters of the outer boroughs, like Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
Our plan is to become the go to platform for the local exchange of goods and services. We are building features that will facilitate residents providing services locally to their neighbors, so it is not just a marketplace for used items.
What inspired the business?
We saw the potential economic capacity of dense urban neighborhoods when we moved to the rapidly growing Long Island City. The building was using a software that enabled tenants to communicate in a very inefficient manner. We decided to create a user friendly product and scale the concept of the closed verified-user network to cover not only a single building, but also similar buildings in the neighborhood to increase the potential network-effect.
What neighborhoods have good deals based on your data?
Our traction is remarkable in Long Island City (where we launched our MVP), where see around 100 hyperlocal classifieds added on a weekly basis. Classifieds about furniture, electronics, and move-out sales are also picking up in all other neighborhoods we cover. A growing use case is people seeking or offering apartments for short time rent, especially around holidays where there is an increased demand and a supply to match it. With AirBnb you have to trust complete strangers who are gone before you come back. However, with Tenant King it is family and relatives of neighbors in your building, who feel the responsibility and can be held accountable. They can also handle the process of checking-in and checking-out, so you don’t need an extra person to take care of that.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are excited to be launching a complete redesign of our user interface in the following weeks. This update will make the site more intuitive for the users and is largely based on the feedback we received from them. We are also working on perhaps the most exciting addition since our initial launch. It is called the “electronic welcome basket” and will enable our users to save on local services. The exact details of the welcome basket cannot be revealed yet, but we are confident it will be received very well by our users. Other than providing new benefits to our users, we are planning to cover 4-5 new neighborhoods of Manhattan by the end of the year and focus on user acquisition in the other neighborhoods.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
We were never told that the best way to learn about your company is to talk to investors. The challenging questions asked were able to reveal facets of our business that we would have never addressed just by sitting in our office. We leveraged all of our contacts to get as many VC meetings as possible, even if we knew beforehand it was going to be too early for them, and we always walked out smarter and better prepared for our future challenges.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
The continue the thought process above, we would be excited to meet any institutional investors whose areas of interest include e-commerce, hyperlocal, and real estate tech startups.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is the home of the best consumer in the world. It also happens to be our home, where we experienced a problem and decided to offer a solution to it.
Where is your favorite outdoor bar in the city for a drink when it is actually warm out?
I would highly recommend LIC Landing, a waterfront bar with unbeatable views of the Manhattan skyline, located in the Hunter’s Point South Park. When it comes to Manhattan, I would recommend the rooftop bars of Skylark and Pod 39 in Midtown.