Renly thinks they have what it takes to be the platform for booking temporary beauty and fitness locations. Founder Chris Sheng calls it the “Airbnb for commercial business space.”
He found that many studio and gym owners have unused spaces that they want to rent for short periods of time. Sheng also wants to make it easy for transient hair stylists and personal trainers to find a spot in which to work.
It’s an “operational nightmare and huge financial burden” for people who own underutilized spaces, Sheng explained. Renly is offering them “freedom through flexibility.”
The Renly site aggregates regional listings in Los Angeles, New York and Rhode Island. They built a scraping tool to get listings from public databases and expect to reach out to more local businesses to get them on board.
They plan to make money by taking a 10 percent commission on all bookings, with 5 percent coming from the buy-side and 5 percent coming from the sell-side. Sheng said he learned a lot about running a business from his tuxedo rental startup that he worked on before this.
Based in Manhattan Beach, Sheng was inspired for his business idea by his now ex-wife, who is a hair stylist. Unfortunately, he blamed his dedication to entrepreneurship for their relationship problems.
“She inspired the startup,” said Sheng, “but the time commitment and obsession for the business is what led to the divorce.”
Sheng hopes to move beyond fitness and beauty spaces and has plans to incorporate other types of commercial spaces as well. He also is launching a service-booking platform for customers to book appointments called Renly Circle, something that he unveiled for the first time at Disrupt.
It’s “like StyleSeat, but for more than just salons,” he said.