Trust is perhaps the most important pillar on which the sharing economy, which relies on strangers giving others access to their resources, stands. However, many remain skeptical. In a recent PwC survey, 69 percent said they would not trust a sharing economy company unless recommended by someone they personally trust.
Safely CEO Andrew Bate learned the pain points of the market through his past management consultant work helping travel companies position their assets in the most effective way possible. “I had friends who had a second home and they didn’t use it for 48 weeks of the year. When I started asking them why they were leaving the home empty, it made sense. They didn’t want strangers from the internet to come and sleep in their bed and use their dishes,” says Bate.
“[With Safely] we’re answering two questions for those renting their second home: first, ‘Who’s staying in my house?’ And then second, ‘What happens when something goes wrong?'”
The insurtech startup, based out of the Atlanta Tech Village, serves as the middle man between the property managers and the interested renter by running a background check on the guest including felonies, global sanctions and sex offender lists. After passing the background check, the guest can instantly book through the property management platform. “We have the industry’s only contributory database of bad guests. Those are people who should never rent again without the right supervision,” says Bate.
Safely also provides peace of mind in case something goes wrong during the stay by providing primary commercial insurance, thanks to their network of insurance underwriters, of up to $1 million. “So if anything goes wrong, you know we take care of it. This insurance policy covers the homeowner, the property manager, and the guest,” says Bate.
Safely keeps track of the risk profile based on both the background check and the final outcome of prior rentals. “It’s like the 80-20 rule for bad Airbnb guests. We can predict that ahead of time,” he says.
“We have an API connection into any booking sites and into property management systems. We use our data science to help predict each rental and hit as many databases as we can to help us make that decision.”
Safely makes money by adding a small trust and safety fee to the property manager’s booking fee, which replaces the traditional safety deposit. They raised a seed round in 2016 and are currently participating in the Techstars MetLife accelerator in Cary, NC.
While Safely currently focuses on property managers as their main customers, they hope to expand soon to providing the service directly to owners. “That’s about 40 percent of the industry. These are people who manage 80 to 100 homes. All of our focus has been on integrating with these property managers,” says Bate. They operate across the U.S. and, thanks to their Dutch subsidiary, plan to expand their service to Europe soon.
“We’re starting to look at how we can help the individual homeowner, so that’s a really big push for us,” says Bate. “And then working with MetLife to make our risk score better and more predictive and looking at improving our fraud signals.”