AirBnB may be big worldwide, but not quite so much in Japan. That’s according to Daniel Saito, co-founder of Homerent. When asked about Homerent being in a competitive space that’s quickly being matured by challengers like AirBnB, Daniel told me:
Yes AirBnB is in Japan, Wimdu is in Japan. But they are all remotely trying to run the business out from their respective headquarters.
Seeing this, Daniel believes that Homerent has home ground advantage in Japan. He further explained:
[We’re] able to work directly with the Japanese marketplace where collaborative consumption has always been difficult to adopt. We managed to build a trust-based platform and help mitigate safety issues, help support issues in multiple languages (Japanese, French, and English), and assist in the cultural barriers. We also are aware of local jurisdictions and are compliant with local laws and practices.
While the business model of Homerent is somewhat similar to its competitors, the unique Japanese culture has made it hard for foreign businesses to thrive there. Daniel believes most Japanese wouldn’t rely on foreign services that aren’t even based in Japan to rent out their houses. Early traction at Homerent seems to suggest that there could be demand for a Japanese-run (or at least Japan-based) home rentals platform. The startup, which is currently self-funded, started operations in September and has seen its users rack up a total of about 400 nights rented in various properties – and that’s with only minimal promotion.
In a nice boost to the team’s spirits, Homerent recently managed to grab the U.S. Ambassador’s Award at the Entrepreneur Awards Japan 2012. Daniel said:
If anything, this nomination and winning this prestigious award validates the business and dedication of the team behind Homerent.jp.
Perhaps some of you guys might have heard of Daniel’s name familiar at our Startup Asia Jakarta conference in June. Daniel was actually one of the founding members at MySQL who now also runs SkySQL, a competitor of Oracle Japan. And yes, Daniel is running two startups now and is in a confident mood that he can do well on both fronts with great people helping him run the show.
For folks who are interested in Homerent (who is now in beta) can find its one-page deck below.