Airbnb prompts wave of like-minded start-ups

A number of new start-ups have likened themselves to US-based company Airbnb, the leader in travel rentals, which has booked more than 10 million nights of accommodation worldwide.


Airbnb, founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, is an online service that provides a platform for individuals to rent unoccupied living space to guests.


As of November 2012, the company had more than 250,000 listings in 30,000 cities and 192 countries.


It has raised funds from investors such as Y Combinator, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global Solutions and General Catalyst Partners.


US actor Ashton Kutcher is also an investor in the company.


In November last year, Airbnb opened an office in Sydney – its 11th office worldwide – and flagged plans to recruit local talent.


As the company goes from strength to strength, entrepreneurs have been inspired to develop like-minded services, even referring to Airbnb in their taglines.


Here are a few examples of Airbnb-inspired start-ups.




Boatbound, which describes itself as Airbnb for boat rentals, is a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, allowing users to rent everything from kayaks to catamarans to yachts.


“Find and rent a boat directly from our community of boat owners anywhere in the US. Every rental comes with insurance, on-the-water assistance, and 24/7 customer support,” the site says.


“Going on a fishing trip? Water skiing? Traveling, but don’t want to bring your boat? No matter the reason you want to rent, you can rent the perfect boat on Boatbound.”


Each rental comes equipped with $1 million in insurance coverage, ensuring both owners and renters are protected.


Rover and DogVacay


These start-ups, which are vying for the title of Airbnb for dogs, have both secured substantial amounts of funding.


DogVacay, founded by a husband-and-wife team, is an LA-based marketplace that matches dog owners in need of pet-care services with qualified animal caregivers.


In November last year, DogVacay raised $6 million from Benchmark Capital, having already raised funds from investors including First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.


Earlier in the year, its Seattle-based rival Rover raised $3.4 million from investors including Madrona Venture Group and CrunchFund.


Rover markets itself as an alternative to dog kennels, offering similar services to DogVacay.




FlightCar claims the title of Airbnb for airport car rentals.


It is a peer-to-peer marketplace for car rentals at airports, connecting travellers with vehicles at much lower rates than those charged by traditional rental car agencies.


The founders – former students from Harvard, Princeton and MIT – created FlightCar with a goal to improve both the airport parking and rental experiences for ordinary travellers.


“Why pay for parking, when you can get it for free while helping out a fellow traveler?… We’re revolutionizing the airport parking and car rental industries one car at a time,” the website says.


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