As it raises new cash, Recharge adds homes to its supply of on-demand spaces

Recharge, the business which got its start pitching pay-as-you-go rentals of unused hotel rooms, is adding private homes to its inventory of spaces — offering the first 100 signups in cities where the plan is available a guaranteed income of $1,000 per month. “To celebrate the launch and continue to expand our community early Recharge […]

Recharge, the business which got its start pitching pay-as-you-go rentals of unused hotel rooms, is adding private homes to its inventory of spaces — offering the first 100 signups in cities where the plan is available a guaranteed income of $1,000 per month.

“To celebrate the launch and continue to expand our community early Recharge hosts thate approved to be part of the Recharge 100 of each city will receive a guaranteed $1000/month,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Recharge 100 is a group of  early supporters and activists in each city that share their homes.”

The company began with a simple premise — that users might not need a hotel room for 24 hours. ” People are purchasing privacy,” says the company’s chief executive, Emmanuel (“Manny”) Banfo. “If you think about getaround — allow you to purchase a car in 30 minute increments. There are so many services that have come out right now and that allow you take your amount of time and control how much time you buy it for,” says the company’s chief executive, Emmanuel (“Manny”) Banfo. 

Recharge chief executive Manny Banfo.

Banfo says that Recharge actually began with homes as its first spaces available for rent back in 2016. At the time the spaces were all friends houses, but the company hadn’t figured out a way to vet and service the home inventory.

So Banfo took his pitch to hotels. The company has done over 50,000 bookings and managed to attract industry investors like JetBlue Technology Ventures. JetBlue liked the company’s ability to offer private space to weary travelers off of red eye flights on well-traveled routes from Los Angeles to New York, according to Banfo.

If JetBlue’s investment offered Recharge access to the demand side of the equation, then the company’s new investment partner, Fifth Wall Ventures, gives the company new access to supply.

Backed by a clutch of property developers, managers, and homebuilding companies, Fifth Wall will give Recharge access to new developments as they come online — and give property managers and owners access to instant revenue for unused spaces. That’s likely what attracted Fifth Wall — and its partner Brad Greiwe (who’ll be taking a seat on the board of directors) — to the company. To date, the company has raised $10 million in funding from Fifth Wall, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and

The Homes service, which is launching with just over 1,000 listings in Los Angeles, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area and another 80,000 people on its waiting list, can be offered in two ways. Homeowners can let Recharge manage the process and make up to $500 a month, or take care of cleaning and maintenance themselves and make upwards of $2000 or more per month.

There are two options available to homeowners that use the Recharge service.

“If you’re doing the work yourself we’re vetting you very hard,” says Banfo. “We’ll qualify the overall character and will qualify the unit… whether it has a doorman, an elevator, other neighbors on the floor, a fob for the door, fob for the lock.”

In cities like New York and San Francisco Recharge is able to avoid regulatory scrutiny by not allowing its users to stay overnight — thereby skirting the rules that have landed Airbnb in hot water with local regulators.

On average, users stay for roughly two-and-a-half hours and spent between $80 to $100 for their use of spaces.

Average stay is roughly two and a half hours. People are spending $80 to $100… average is lower in homes.. Becaues there’s so much more of them and the money is going directly to people’s pockets..

“What’s missing in a city is privacy.. In your home right now you can shower, you can cry, you can do pushups, you can run around, you can meditate, pray… when you’re in the city there’s just.. You have this mask on… and you can’t unmask and offices don’t allow you to unmask, because you’re being watched still,” says Banfo. 

Skincare startup Heyday raises $8M

Heyday, a startup aiming to make facials more affordable and personalized, announced today that it has raised $8 million in Series A funding. I first wrote about the company a year ago, when it raised its $3 million seed round. At the time, co-founder and CEO Adam Ross said his goal was to offer something […]

Heyday, a startup aiming to make facials more affordable and personalized, announced today that it has raised $8 million in Series A funding.

I first wrote about the company a year ago, when it raised its $3 million seed round. At the time, co-founder and CEO Adam Ross said his goal was to offer something that sits between expensive, high-end facials and “random little places that are generally cheap in a bad way.” (Heyday pricing starts at $65 for a 30-minute session.)

The company current operates six brick-and-mortar locations — it started in New York City but recently opened its first Los Angeles store. At the same time, Ross said the website was recently redesigned to offer a more “frictionless” booking experience, and the company also says it can use its “Facial Record” of customers to personalize the treatment and products.

Moving forward, the goal is to both open new physical locations (particularly in LA), but also to continue to investing in the technology.

“It’s not an either/or — we see mutual growth and expansion across both channel,” Ross said. “The physical footprint is always going to be a key pillar of our brand strategy, but to win and service customers’ needs in this space, you need to be online.”

Ross also suggested that Heyday is changing the way customers look at facials. For one thing, 30 percent of its customers say they’ve never had a facial before. In addition, Ross said they’re starting to see facials not as an occasional luxury, but as a regular part of their wellness routine: “Most of our clients think about us like an Equinox membership.” And they should, he argued, especially since “your skin is your largest organ.”

The new funding was led by Fifth Wall Ventures, with participation from Lerer Hippeau, Brainchild Funding, M3 Ventures and CircleUp. Fifth Wall partner Kevin Campos is joining Heyday’s board of directors.

“We are in the midst of a significant shift in the retail industry, where marquee brands are moving from digitally native to an omnichannel model,” Campos said in the funding announcement. “We believe the team at Heyday is offering the best experience across both digital and physical touchpoints, and we are thrilled to partner with them to help navigate this complex process and position them for success.”

Freight trucking startup Shipwell gets a $10 million boost

Shipwell, a startup pitching a marketplace for domestic ground shipping and fleet and cargo management services for freight trucking companies, has raised $10 million in a new round of funding. A booming American economy coupled with failing infrastructure and a low-margin business reluctant to adopt new technologies have put stress on domestic logistics companies in the […]

Shipwell, a startup pitching a marketplace for domestic ground shipping and fleet and cargo management services for freight trucking companies, has raised $10 million in a new round of funding.

A booming American economy coupled with failing infrastructure and a low-margin business reluctant to adopt new technologies have put stress on domestic logistics companies in the $900 billion market for U.S. trucking services.

Shipwell combines a marketplace for shippers to connect with freight companies and online tools to manage those shipments. In effect, the company is pitching a version of the proprietary logistics management toolkit that has made Amazon so successful, to any retailer or outlet. 

We coordinate the freight, we pay the truckers, we help optimize the fleets,” says Shipwell president and co-founder, Jason Traff. 

Those services — and the company’s growing business among small and medium-sized suppliers to the construction industry — brought the Austin-based company to the attention of Fifth Wall Ventures, the Los Angeles based investment firm whose limited partners are among the biggest construction companies in the world.

For Fifth Wall the opportunity was clear. “Shipwell’s full-service, digitized brokerage platform can streamline the way many of our Anchor LPs and portfolio companies approach large-scale freight shipping,” the firm’s principal — and newest Shipwell board member — Vik Chawla wrote in a blog post announcing its most recent deal.

Fifth Wall led the company’s Series A round, which also included the new investor Global Founders Capital and previous investors First Round Capital, Base 10 Ventures, Capital Theory and Village Global .

The company’s business isn’t for big shippers that deal with thousands of shipments per-day, but rather the small and medium sized businesses that spend $100 million or less per-year on freight. And the small-fleet shipping companies that make up the bulk of the industry.

“In addition to the obvious use case for Shipwell customers who own warehousing, landlords can use Shipwell to become effective facilitators for their tenants,” according to Chawla. “Some Anchor LPs [the limited partners that provide capital for Fifth Wall to invest] are already engaged in this shipping ecosystem on behalf of their tenants, while others act as transport hubs. Beyond these, however, there are easy tie-ins within a number of key categories of Fifth Wall Anchors [sic] that regularly ship or receive freight—developers, of course, but also retail, office, homebuilding anchors.”

“We focus on the longer tail. If you are doing $50 million in freight per-year then you’re doing dozens of shipments per week,” said Traff. “Most of our freight is less than a truckload or a full truckload freight and it’s more long-haul.”

It hasn’t been a straight road for Traff and his co-founder Gregory Price. Traff originally got the startup bug in Asia, where he launched a company that would sell low-cost copies of old masters paintings. When he sold that business he moved back to the U.S. and pitched an idea to Y Combinator that eventually became Leaky, a car insurance company.

When Leaky shut down and its business was acquired by Navion in 2013, Traff moved to Austin to figure out his next move.I t was there that he ran into a fellow Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus named Greg Price and the two began hatching schemes for the company that would become Shipwell.

The two men began planning the business in 2016 and only launched the service in the beginning of this year. “Supply chains were very complex and there was a lot of building to do,” Traff said. 

Shipwell makes money by charging a commission on freight services and fees for its freight management software platform.

Ultimately this could create a new model to unify a fragmented industry. “This connective approach makes all of the difference in an industry with so many small companies at play,” Chawla wrote. “A surprising 89% of freight trucks in the U.S. are owned by carriers with fewer than five total trucks, and 99% of freight carriers possess fewer than 10 total trucks in their fleet. Despite the big business of freight shipping in the U.S., it’s actually a fragmented market of small businesses.”

 

Everything old is new again as demand response comes to real estate with Blueprint Power

Real estate developers and their properties are getting an opportunity to cash in on power management and surplus energy production thanks to a new company called Blueprint Power. It’s a new twist on an old idea dating back to the first clean tech boom based on ideas of demand response and power management. Companies like […]

Real estate developers and their properties are getting an opportunity to cash in on power management and surplus energy production thanks to a new company called Blueprint Power.

It’s a new twist on an old idea dating back to the first clean tech boom based on ideas of demand response and power management.

Companies like EnerNOC and Comverge, pitched ways for manufacturers to make money by reducing power consumption during times of peak demand and getting paid for it by energy companies. In the wake of the massive blackout that hit the U.S. in the early 2000s and decades of concerns around failing energy infrastructure in the U.S., the notion of having some way to respond more flexibly to changes in demand from the grid seemed to make sense.

Now, as more residential and commercial buildings install actually renewable generation capacity and have more robust digital networks, these buildings can themselves become power generators or local points for gird power management — all in an effort to make the grid more responsive, according to a statement from Blueprint.

The company’s pitch was able to compel investors including Congruent Ventures, MetaProp Partners, Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham to throw $3.5 million to the company.

The company’s founding investors, Lennar and Fifth Wall Ventures also returned with new investors including Hanwha Energy subsidiary, 174 Power ; Urban.us, and URBAN-X (an accelerator backed by BMW and the Mini Cooper.

According to a statement from the company, the business uses by monitoring onsite demand and measuring the output from onsite renewable power assets like solar panels, any energy storage devices, waste heat product, fuel cells and load balancing or controllable load features.

Additional software to monitor pricing allows the company to dynamically pitch energy sources to the various markets that would need it.

“Until very recently, buildings were not able to proactively sell excess energy capacity in the same way that traditional power plants do,” said Robyn Beavers, the chief executive of Blueprint Power, and a former vice president of innovation at Lennar and an assistant to the founders of Google Inc. — the search engine giant that is now a subsidiary of Alphabet .  “Now in states like New York they can. We are helping buildings connect to and transact in these markets in a scalable way.”