The new Triple Bottom Line: Pool. Party. Profit!
A swimming pool is without a doubt the most popular leisure addition available to add to a real-estate property. The warm, crystal clear water of your own private pool is a luxury that is hard to resist. However, a pool is much like a boat - in that, just like the saying goes, "The only thing better than owning a boat is having a friend that owns a boat.".
Just like with boats, swimming pools are expensive, and pool maintenance can be a pain. Expect to be vacuuming, skimming, brushing, replacing filters, and chlorine shocking on a regular basis. Granted, just spending 10 minutes a day jumping into that refreshing water might change your life, but it comes at a price. Keep in mind that, unlike Snoopy, the puppy you got the kids last year, a pool can’t be brought to the asylum.
Fortunately, a service like Swimply could offer some relief to swimming pool owners after the honeymoon-pool period is over by turning the (currently mostly abandoned) pool from a liability to an income-generating tool.
Swimply is an online platform for pool sharing that connects people looking to get their hands on a private pool with owners of private pools who are looking to earn money off of otherwise underutilized pools. Airbnb for nearby swimming pools, except billed by the hour.
Imagery courtesy Swimply.com
One of the advantages of using the platform is that all bookings are automatically protected under a host liability insurance for up to $1 000 000. In exchange for the insurance, payment processing, and matchmaking, Swimply takes a commission of 15% on what the host makes.
Bunim Laskin was inspired to develop this service when he struck a deal to use his neighbor's pool in exchange for paying for its maintenance costs. He then tested that idea in his home area before expanding the business.
In 2019, he got on Shark Tank trying to get further funding for his idea, but the sharks declined to invest in, to be fair, a quirky idea. This turned out an unlucky decision, considering that sales went up 4 000% in 2020 thanks to the COVID epidemic (and the related closing of public pools).
Swimply is now active in the US, Canada, and Australia and has raised $10 million to fund further expansion into new territories and verticals. They already envision a future for Swimply beyond just swimming pools, with the recently announced Joyspace they plan to further democratize luxury by making other types of awesome spaces available to the public.
🕵️♀️ Who else?
Although the idea seems pretty straightforward, the opportunity has some structural flaws that might explain why the competition is rather lacking: two-sided marketplace, limited revenue per transaction, relatively limited total addressable market, …
There is however a French competitor called Swimmy that is dominating the European market.
In more general classifieds sites, there isn’t really much in terms of people renting out their private pools. A big part of the success of these services will be a result of successfully evangelizing the sharing economy, more so than replacing an existing market.
Pools are large water consumers, energy hogs, and need harmful chemicals to operate, so a solution that optimizes usage and counters proliferation is a win in our book. Pool sharing, as Swimply’s tagline, “Escape Locally”, suggests, also promotes less travel, and encourages the forming of local communities. Similar experiences are also available on Airbnb, but the fact that you don’t need to pay for the lodging makes vacation feasible for low-income families.
👎 Why not?
Most of the pool owners are at home (it’s even required by Swimply when more than 15 people will be present) when renting out their pool, which limits the risk of the pool becoming a party scene. Nevertheless, having renters over might still upset the peace and quiet of the neighborhood, something Swimply takes seriously. E
📚 Further reading?
Swimply review on Shark-tank fan site
Snoopy likes the pool almost as much as he likes his last owners.