How Zumper got their first 1000 listings on its platform.

🤷‍♂️What do they do?

Zumper is the largest private apartment rental platform in North America, competing with Trulia, Zillow, Street Easy, and many other companies. Their mission is to make renting an apartment as easy as booking a hotel. With a $143m in backing from Andreeson Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and Greycroft, they have the fire-power to make right on their promise.

🦁How did this come about?..... isn't there already so many players in this space?

Zumper was started in 2012 by Anthemos "Anth" Georgiades, an ex-BCG consultant studying at Harvard Business School at the time. Having had to move around seven times during his undergrad and the following 3.5 years at BCG, he was frustrated with how arcane the renting process was. Granted, that search was Okai at the time; you can see and compare listings from the comfort of your home; however, you had to jump hopes to go from finding an apartment you like to sign a lease. To add insult to injury, this process was done in a vacuum—zero transparency. So when he finally got to grad school and encountered the same problem yet again...that was it! He had to do something about it.

🐣The Chicken & Egg

Marketplaces are hard, and they are inherently hard to get started. Early on, Anth had a critical decision to make, should they tackle Supply or Demand from the get-go? For him, he chose Supply. The first two years of the business were dedicated solely to getting supply-side liquidity and having the biggest catalog of rental apartments in their two key Markets: SF & NYC. Their Series A funding was entirely raised on that premise: that they, at the time, had enough supply side to go out and build all the vertical integration tools that would make renting an apartment an "Airbnb like experience."

📈Going Bottoms up

So now that they were focused on getting supply side up & running, Anth partnered up with Taylor Glass-Moore. Taylor came from a Brokerage background and has something unique to offer: relationships with landlords, brokers, and property management all across the country. While in other industries, a founder may get away with ruthlessly cold emailing and calling people and companies to sign up to their platform, realtors, and brokers aren't necessarily your fanboying early adopters. They have been burned many times by startups trying to disintermediate their job and make them obsolete.

😎Come for the tools, stay for the marketplace.

Equipped with an "in" to the industry, Anth & Taylor went on their mission to sign up as many listings as possible. Their go-to-model was one similar to that of Airbnb. Just like Airbnb created their infamous double posting tool that allowed Airbnb users to upload their listing to craigslist, Zumper built a similar tool "Zumper Pro" where using only a mobile phone, renters can create and upload a listing to Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, and, of course, Zumper. 

Zumper Pro also allowed users to view all the applicants in one unified dashboard. So often, users didn't necessarily know where this lead came from and would, at times, assume Zumper was a powerful lead generation machine, even though all they did was aggregate leads from their competitors.

💸We'll make money later

To supercharge their growth and acquire about 80% of all listings in NYC & SF on their platform in 2 years, Zumper offered its pro tool entirely for free. This was the single biggest acquisition driver for Zumper early on. With Taylor's connection to the industry it was an almost no-brainer for realtors and brokers alike to adapt:

More Leads ✅

Less Work ✅

Costs 0$✅

By focusing on just getting listings on their website, the marketplace naturally started growing to about 30k visitors a month. That's when Anth switched gears and started going after the demand side.

...and that is the story of how Zumper got its #first1000 listings. See you next Saturday 👋

Ali Abouelatta