Ekaya,a marketplace for long term rentals with a touch of online dating, like an AirBnb with a little Tinder thrown in for good measure, has launched in private BETA, with early access requests on Ekaya.co .
Founded by Justin R. Melville (CEO), Ruark Ferreira (COO) and Rudolf Vavruch (CTO) and Mark Heerden who provided their initial seed capital and joined the team as executive chairman & CFO, Ekaya wants to connect property owners and property hunters easily.
The platform connects landlords to good (verified) tenants, providing transparency and control like never before. For tenants, Ekaya is the perfect tool to differentiate themselves in the hyper-competitive rental market and get the place they want.
” The opportunity we’re addressing with Ekaya is massive, totally enormous,” says Justin. “And, unlike a lot of other consumer internet ideas, it’s totally feasible to execute this in South Africa and then expand. The combination of these factors together with our passion to design and build great things come together to inspire us everyday.”
He adds that Ekaya will be the first product of its kind to allow tenants to create “Profiles” for themselves, right on their smart phone, including credit information and references.
“The advantage is that our tenants can apply to multiple properties at once, with all their particulars in one place. Landlords love this because they have a much clearer idea of the quality (or potential risk profile) of tenants upon application (hundreds of phone calls from randoms on the internet will become a thing of the past),” says Justin.
Ekaya is totally free for landlords and the marketplace is merely the beginning of a wider ecosystem of products and services aimed at the rental space. Ekaya aims to make money from these without having to fall into the slavish trap of advertising models.
Ekaya tries to determine “good” tenants by using objective data from both financial and social sources to create a weighted rating for our tenants. If that data turns out to prejudice the tenant, that’s likely the result of a poor history/reputation on their part. Justin says there’s little they can do about that except make the information available to the landlord so that they can make an informed decision. On a side note, Ekaya is looking to introduce an education and remediation component in due time so they can help “poor” tenants become “great” tenants over time. A kinda of a cleansing tool.
Though Ekaya looks sexy, it is not the only platform connecting tenants and landlords. Ebay owned general classifieds site Gumtree has most of the eyeballs the firm is interested in but Ekaya is not interested in their revenue model at all.
“The fact is that the local space is very informal with more than 70% of the market renting privately (i.e. without an agent/agency)/ Gumtree serves as the primary marketplace at the moment but it’s incredibly vulnerable to disruption and that’s where we come in,” Justin tells TechMoran.
It’s other competition is globally from classifieds sites such as JunkMail, OLX, Craigslist among others but Justin says these tools are outdated and lack focus. Ekaya will do for long term renting what AirBnb did for short-term renting out family spare rooms – do it yourself, better and more conveniently. Similar mobile marketplaces include US’s LiveLovely.com
Ekaya says it already has an API access to several platforms for content but is spending more time developing partnerships on the business end to enable it offer a truly unique offering that will have landlords and tenants bashing down their doors for more.
Justin is not afraid to say this was not they intended to do earlier. They had a clever little show house finder which is now hosted on Eboard.io
and the team says it is not in a position to give it a lot of focus at the moment but are proud that it is the first mobile show house finder of it’s kind.
“It was a great product to cut our teeth on but it taught us there is a big difference between good ideas and good business, what we’re doing now is both,” says Justin. “Minus the 88mph incubation, we would probably still doing the show house finder. The 88mph Program gave us the space and confidence to think big again, something we had lost a little of in our many years toiling away in startupland.”
In two years, Ekaya aims to be in the middle of internationalizing and on a mission to turn into a very big business, very quickly.
“Possibly. Where we go will likely be a path of least resistance thing. The opportunity we’re looking at is totally global, there’s isn’t a continent or country that doesn’t present an interesting and lucrative prospect,” Justin told TechMoran.
Ruark and Justin have worked together since 2005 and were last seen (prior to starting Ekaya) trying to bring industrial revolution to the global music industry with Airborne