When Carlos Pierre decided to move to Barcelona, money was tight. He couldn’t afford to rent a full apartment by himself, but he didn’t know anyone in the city he could ask to share a longterm lease for a larger apartment. So he created Badi, an online platform that uses a proprietary algorithm to connect individuals to tenants with spare rooms based on lifestyle, personality traits and interests.
Today the company officially announced that it has launched in New York City, marking the first time it has entered the US market. The Barcelona-based company has already served 2.3 million users across major European hubs like London, Berlin, Paris and Madrid. The platform, which manages rental payments for tenants, has facilitated over $80 million payments.
“We are entering New York after five years spent focused on Spain and the other European cities,” says the 29-year-old founder and CEO Pierre, who was named to the Forbes Under 30 Europe list in 2019. “What we like to do is go to the most supply-constrained cities with the largest populations, and then go into the smaller second tier cities.”
This is the primary reason Badi is going after New York first. Though the price to buy a home is falling in New York City, the price to rent has shown no signs of slowing down. The broker fee ban that went into effect earlier this month, which was quickly halted due to a lawsuit, ended up increasing rent prices even more.
The announcement that Badi has entered the US market comes a month after the company raised a $30 million Series B, bringing the company’s total funding to $45 million. The latest round was led by San Francisco-based firm Goodwater Capital, which was joined by Boston-based Spark Capital and other European investors.
The company’s backers are confident that room rental behemoth Airbnb will not prove to be too much competition in the US. The startup has differentiated itself by focusing on long term roommate compatability and rentals, rather than short term stays (the average stay through Badi is six months). They also believe it will help them shirk the regulatory issues that Airbnb has faced.
“The challenge of Airbnb’s model is that it competes directly with hotels. By competing with hotels, you’re coming against the hotel lobby that is trying to fight off competition,” says Goodwater cofounder and managing partner Chi-Hua Chien. “The typical Badi rental is much more akin to the rental activity you see on Craigslist with people listing rooms.”
As Badi eyes further US expansion, its model will certainly be tested by entering the crowded and complex New York housing market. But as Frank Sinatra once famously said of New York, “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere.” And that is exactly what Badi is hoping to prove with today’s launch.