Online platform connecting second-home owners to workforce wins Tahoe Pitch Showcase
The creator of an online platform that matches second-home owners to Truckee Tahoe area employees seeking seasonal or long-term rentals took home the Judge’s Choice award at the third annual Tahoe Pitch Showcase.
The “Shark Tank” themed competition featured six Tahoe area entrepreneurs Monday who gave 5-minute pitches to a live audience and a panel of judges.
Colin Frolich, along with his wife Kai, created Landing, a company similar to Airbnb but unique to mountain towns, to help local workers find housing.
“We moved here in the fall with the intention of establishing roots in Truckee,” said Frolich. “The first thing we had to do was find housing and we found that to be very challenging.”
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A search for long-term housing on Craigslist resulted in only six results he said.
“This is an interesting challenge because we’re in a place with tons of houses,” he said.
Frolich used his technology experience working for Lyft and Airbnb, to develop a platform that would cater to mountain towns with an excess of vacant homes. He then teamed up with the Mountain Housing Council and Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to test the idea in Truckee.
“What we wanted to do was build an online platform where we can facilitate trust-based transactions similar to Airbnb,” said Frolich. “And that will allow for homeowners to frictionlessly add their listing and for renters to easily add their profiles.”
According to data from the Mountain Housing Council there are 25,569 housing units in eastern Placer County. Of those units, 6,980 are occupied by full-time residents, 1,590 are long-term rentals, 3,461 are short-term rentals and 17,310 second homes.
“We’re trying to be a piece of the solution,” said Frolich. “We need to build more affordable long-term housing units in this town, but we can unlock existing inventory today.”
GARNERING ‘GREAT LEADS’
To get the business off the ground they mailed information to second homeowners at their primary addresses which Frolich said “garnered a lot of great leads.” The company also started a partnership with Tahoe Donner community which gave Landing free advertising. He said they are now looking to partner with the real estate community to better understand real estate trends.
“We were really hyper focused on how we could market to second homeowners,” he said.
Since launching in February they were able to get 100 homeowner leads which turned into 16 rentals and 40 locals housed with 500 people requesting housing.
“The goal was to use technology to solve this problem,” he said. “The initial pilot proved to us that there’s something here.”
Moving forward, he said they are looking to expand beyond Truckee into the Tahoe region and eventually to Mammoth.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
Other business ideas that were featured ranged from outdoor gear, solar power and cannabis cultivation.
The winner of the People’s Choice Award, for which audience members voted, went to Deb Kelly, creator of Life Ingredients. Her company provides tools and skills to children in order to create a “more emotionally stable population” that is “more aware of its thoughts and feelings,” according to the company’s website.
Over the summer contestants participated in the Tahoe Pitch Camp, a series of workshops hosted by the Sierra Business Council that taught successful pitch techniques to entrepreneurs.
At the end of the camp six entrepreneurs were chosen to compete at the showcase.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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