Many comforts of home are often overlooked and sacrificed when traveling, but when staying in a new city for an extended amount of time that compromise does not need to be made thanks to Blueground. The company, launched in 2013, offers handpicked properties that are centrally located, fully furnished, and upgraded with the latest amenities and appliances on its platform for extended stays globally. In NYC alone, the company has more than 250 apartments in some of the most desired neighborhoods like Chelsea, Tribeca, and the West Village. Potential renters can manage the entire process of securing and maintaining these apartments online – viewing, booking, paying, and even filing maintenance requests.
AlleyWatch sat down with Blueground’s Saad S. Cheema to learn more about how the company is providing an entirely new set of options for mid to long term accommodations, the company’s future plans, and most recent round of funding, which brings its total funding to $27.4M across four rounds.
Tell us about the product or service that Blueground offers.
Blueground is a real estate tech company that wants to make people feel at home wherever they choose to live. We lease carefully selected, ideally located properties and upgrade them to fully furnished and thoughtfully equipped apartments that can be booked for a month, a year, or even longer.
In New York, we have compiled an impressive portfolio of more than 250 apartments in the most sought-after locations, including Chelsea, Midtown West, Tribeca, the West Village and the Financial District, which we have leased from prominent property owners and management companies such as Related Rentals, Stonehenge and UDR.
We typically lease numerous apartments before they hit the market, with a goal of holding them for many years, ensuring landlords steady cash flow and value-added financing solutions that maximize a property’s annual yield. We then upgrade the properties with premium furnishings, high-speed WiFi, luxury linens, high-end gadgets brought together with beautiful designs, before offering them to vetted renters for 30 days or longer. The average length of stay is six months.
In a nutshell, we are transforming the way individuals and business guests’ book and experience medium to long-term accommodations in cities around the world, helping them to simply show up and start living.
The idea originated from our CEO’s personal experience living in hotels for long periods of time during business trips. He realized the need for a comfortable and personal space that included a full kitchen for eating healthily while away and additional living space for relaxing and socializing.
On a personal note, I lived overseas in Lagos, Casablanca, and Paris for work assignments. It was always a hassle finding the right housing. Each market had different shortcomings, but it was never easy and comfortable. Blueground’s value proposition was entirely relatable to me on a personal level — it was an idea I could totally get behind.
How is Blueground different?
Blueground is a new, innovative offering in the real estate industry. We are a tech-powered company focused on innovating quickly to modernize the rental process. For property owners, we want to make it easy to rent their spaces, eliminate concerns over maintenance and upkeep, and raise the maximum yield possible. At the same time, we want to provide individual and business guests with beautifully-furnished and thoughtfully-equipped apartments in a way that’s as easy as hailing a ride or shopping online.
Compared to hotels, we’re offering a more spacious, lower cost alternative with an “at home” feeling. Compared to unfurnished apartment providers, guests save the cost and trouble of buying furniture they will need only for a period of time and then will have to sell. Also, Blueground apartments come with beautiful designs and high-quality furniture, in addition to being thoughtfully equipped down to the last detail.
We offer an apartment booking process which is completely online and hassle-free. Renters have the ability to view apartments, check availabilities in real-time, sign a lease for durations of their choosing, pay rent, and file maintenance requests – all via our website and app.
Lastly, for our enterprise clients, we elevate the corporate housing experience, offering them modern, aesthetically-pleasing, tech-powered housing. Right now companies are focused on either long-term corporate housing – which is quite dated and not in the best neighborhoods – or you have companies offering modern designs and booking experience- but with a focus on the short-term/nightly stays.
Blueground is unique because we’re working on the nexus of both long-term and modern, turnkey apartments across the country in all key markets.
What market does Blueground target and how big is it?
We offer two main things: convenience and time-saving through technology and market expertise.
Our first segment is people who value convenience. They don’t want to go out and furnish an apartment, deal with utilities or be tied to inflexible leases. They can be either local residents or just moving to the city.
Our second segment is guests who normally wouldn’t have access to such apartments. For example, if you are moving to New York for 7 months, it is very hard to get a lease in a West Village apartment for less than 12 months.
Or, if you are a foreign executive without a credit history in the US, many landlords won’t entertain your application despite excellent credentials. For this segment, we provide hassle-free access to a part of the market normally out of reach.
Both these segments are rapidly growing as people increasingly value experiences and become more mobile. As in any other aspect of their lives, people expect everything to be faster, easier, more flexible and seamless when they are booking an apartment. In many big cities around the globe, the current apartment inventory that is tastefully furnished is low and has left much to be desired. We are filling this crucial gap by providing modern, tech-powered apartments with flexible agreements
What do you admire about the startup world and why?
The hustle, speed and optimism. I like to execute quickly and see the impact.
I lasted less than a month in the corporate world after college- the bureaucracy and glacial speed got to me. The startup world is extremely fast, meritocratic, and informal. You can really be your authentic self and work with some of the smartest, nicest people all passionate about the problems they are trying to solve.
I lasted less than a month in the corporate world after college- the bureaucracy and glacial speed got to me. The startup world is extremely fast, meritocratic, and informal. You can really be your authentic self…
My mom wanted me to be a doctor and my dad wanted me to be a lawyer, I am so grateful I ended up in startups. Sometimes I wonder what I would have done had I been born 30 years earlier because I can’t see myself functioning in any other environment.
What’s your business model?
Simply put, Blueground leases carefully selected, high-quality properties from prominent landlords in the major markets across the U.S., upgrades those apartments to fully furnished, turnkey rentals, and uses technology to automate all aspects of the experience.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Following our latest fundraising, I am excited to make our processes even more robust and invest further in people, product, design and branding. In the next six months, we expect to double our revenue in the country.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the near term, we are excited to explore new verticals and price points. So far, we have been concentrating on doorman, luxury buildings in top neighborhoods in the city. We will now diversify our offering to more building types in the best performing areas. Additionally, we are trying more design permutations to offer an even more curated experience in each apartment. At this point, we have enough demand data to strategically add to our core offerings.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I love food. One of my favorite things about New York is the diversity of cuisine and all the dining experiences it has to offer. From a hole-in-the-wall Nepalese place behind a cell phone store in Jackson Heights, to cozy West Village bistros, to some of the best seafood restaurants in the world … it all just depends on the mood, ambiance, and where I happen to be at any given time.