Facebook Twitter

Bay Area property management startup Belong to open HQ2 in Utah

SHARE Bay Area property management startup Belong to open HQ2 in Utah

Silicon Valley startup Belong Home is aiming to disrupt the long-term rental market with a platform they say simplifies and improves the relationships between landlords and tenants. On Tuesday, the company announced a $40 million funding round and plans to open a new secondary headquarters in Utah and staff it with 100 new employees.

Belong Home

Silicon Valley startup Belong could have leveraged a fresh cash infusion to expand its current headquarters in San Mateo, California.

But instead, the 3-year-old company will put a portion of its $40 million Series B funding round announced Tuesday to work in Utah, with plans in place to establish a secondary headquarters and hire 100 new employees to staff it.

Belong’s home rental platform has some similarity to the short-term services offered by Airbnb and VRBO, but is focused on long-term rental homes and picks up all of the property management responsibilities, including handling repairs, for a portion of the monthly rent.

The company reports it is seeing expansive growth even amid COVID-19-related conditions that have led to a wave of out-migration from its current markets in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Belong CEO Ale Resnik said that fast-paced growth has led to current expansion plans with Utah emerging as a top site candidate for a secondary headquarters.

“We’ve experienced tremendous growth in the past year, even through a rapidly changing rental market in California due to the pandemic, with 500% growth during 2020,” Resnik said in a statement.

“There are many reasons Utah made sense as our HQ2, but we’ve been especially impressed by the deep emphasis on community culture, and the state’s incredible talent offering, and its startup-friendly business policies. We’re eager to hire the best talent Utah has to offer.”

Belong’s technology matches aspiring long-term renters with homeowners to help find just the right fit for both parties. The company says this has become an increasingly valuable service “as millennials and Gen Z are renting for many more years than their parents did, often due to escalating housing prices.”

Belong’s head of experience and expansion Erin Anderson said the company covers all the duties that come with putting a property into the long-term rental market, including a “deep” inspection of the home, staging and marketing the property and, in some cases, creating 3D virtual tours that allow potential renters to experience the property remotely, a perk that’s been particularly effective amid public health concerns and restrictions created by COVID-19.

Anderson said the legacy property management realm has a notoriously poor reputation, reflected in part by the industry’s dismal promoter scores, a metric widely used to gauge customer sentiment.

“Marketplaces with low happiness scores are ripe for disruption,” Anderson said. “That’s why we’re building the most delightful rental experience at Belong. People who rent more often do not have to be subjected to a negative experience.

“We want to make sure residents feel fully at home.”

On the homeowner side of the equation, Anderson said the typical Belong clients are “accidental” landlords who may be renting out a home or property that is not necessarily an investment vehicle but more likely “a cherished family asset.”

To help keep those assets in top form for both the residents and owners, Belong also includes a 24-hour “concierge” service for responding to issues and has an in-house repair and maintenance team to handle any problems that arise. It’s a benefit Anderson said addresses some of the biggest complaints common among clients of legacy property management companies, namely poor communication channels and lag times on taking care of the typical wear-and-tear issues.

Belong has attracted some $55 million in funding since its launch in 2018 including the just-announced Series B and has attracted a wide range of individual and group investors.

The Series B round includes Silicon Valley venture capitalists A16z, GGV Capital and Battery Ventures. Other notable investors include Utah’s Austen Allred, CEO of Lambda School; Kevin and Julia Hartz, founders of Eventbrite; Sarah Frier, CEO of Nextdoor; Eric Wu, CEO of OpenDoor; Uber Alumni Syndicate; Laurence Tosi, former CFO of Airbnb and Blackstone; and others.

Allred said Belong is on track to upend an underperforming business sector and positioning itself to take effective advantage of Utah’s numerous advantages, including access to top-tier tech talent.

“The secret about Utah is out,” Allred said in a statement. “Not only is this a great place to live, but the talent can’t be beat.

“I invested in Belong because I knew the home rental experience was ripe for a change, and the company’s team and technology are already delivering on that promise. Now I’m excited to see how this infusion of Utah tech talent will both accelerate the company’s success and provide another great opportunity for Utah job seekers.”

Anderson said the new capital will help Belong not only fund the Utah HQ2 expansion but also “expand to new markets while going deeper in the markets we already serve” in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. She said the company also plans to open in three new service areas in the next year, though Utah is not yet slated for access to the platform’s services.

Additional details on new Utah employment positions being offered by Belong can be found at belonghome.com/careers.