Cozy, an online tool for landlords and tenants, is announcing that Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield has joined its board of directors.
Butterfield told me that he’s actually known Cozy co-founder and CEO Gino Zahnd since they worked together at Flickr. With that relationship, and knowing Butterfield’s family background in real estate (his father worked in development, his mother was an agent), Zahnd started asking for feedback. Eventually, he invited Butterfield to join the board.
The two of them actually recorded a video talking about the news (embedded at the end of this post), in which Butterfield explains why he’s excited about the company:
I think there’s a huge opportunity here. I mean, there’s no one really working on the rental experience for the small landlords — there’s the big corporate stuff, but the vast majority of people who are renting a home, a place where they live, are renting from someone who just has a very small number of properties. … It’s also one of those spaces where the big wave of fantastic software that we’ve been seeing over the last 10 years or so hasn’t really touched yet.
Cozy’s goal is to take the old-fashioned, inefficient aspects of the rental process and move them online. Its services include the ability for landlords to collect rent online, manage payments from multiple roommates, and screen tenants, and it makes money by charging landlords a $9 monthly fee (following a 60-day free trial).
Butterfield, meanwhile, said Cozy is the only board he’s serving on now. Apparently he likes being on boards because it allows him to see “the other side” and not just the founder’s perspective. (He’s currently founder and CEO at Tiny Speck.)
When asked about Cozy’s biggest challenge moving forward, Butterfield said it’s “pretty boring” — namely, distribution. Landlords, he noted, don’t really form a “natural community,” so Cozy will have to do a lot of work to make them aware of the product. (The company has already announced that it’s being used by more than 6,000 landlords and renters in more than 500 cities in the US.)
“That’s a surmountable challenge,” Butterfield said. “It’s just regular marketing.”