Economics / Real estate / Startups

Wanna Airbnb your place but don’t wanna do the dirty work? This startup can help

Meet MetroButler.

The MetroBuilder crew at its satellite office in Coworkrs Gowanus. (Courtesy photo)

Some of the most interesting business ideas come to life after simple, day-to-day conversations with friends. That’s what happened to Matt Lernerwho, after listening to a number of his friends in the finance and consulting industry complain about the same thing, again and again, had a light bulb go off in his head.

“My friends kept saying that rent in NYC was expensive, especially because they were only living there 100 days a year,” says Lerner, 29. “When I asked them why they weren’t renting out the place when they weren’t there, they all said the same thing: ‘I don’t have time to manage a profile or respond to inquiries to get a booking.’”

Lerner heard that enough times that he decided to do something about it. He launched MetroButler, which he describes as a real estate and concierge service. It’s got some investor money behind it, too.

“If AirBnB is the world’s biggest hotel, then MetroButler is the front desk and cleaning service all rolled into one,” Lerner says.


Matt Lerner. (Courtesy photo)

Clients tell MetroButler when they want to rent out their property. They take photos of the place, manage the Airbnb (or other short-term rental) profile, get the place cleaned and find a renter.
The service is free to use and MetroButler doesn’t charge clients anything, unless they are successful in renting out the property. Then, MetroButler takes 25 percent. Lerner says that since launching over a year ago, they have had 3,000 reservations, approximately 20 percent of their portfolio in Brooklyn, with the rest in Manhattan.
The six-person team is based in Manhattan’s Flatiron area and has a satellite office at coworking space Coworkrs Gowanus, since a few on the team live in Brooklyn.

This isn’t Lerner’s first rodeo. The Kips Bay resident is a self-proclaimed career entrepreneur who cofounded and sold online ordering service EatBlue.com in 2009, all while he was still an undergrad at the University of Michigan. (EatBlue was sold to Baltimore-based College Advertising Solutions for an undisclosed amount. Also, small world alert: Lerner’s EatBlue cofounder Nick Farinella used to head up distribution partnerships in the New York sales office of 50onRed, a Philly adtech company our sister site Technical.ly Philly has covered extensively.) Lerner also cofounded Gift Connect, a Rockville, Md.-based venture-backed gifting platform, in 2011. He left the company in February 2015.

That’s why when it came to raising money and reaching out to investors, Lerner knew where to start. Last year, MetroButler raised $460,000 from eight investors, some located in Brooklyn and Manhattan, though Lerner declined to share their names.

Aside from the core team, the company employs 25 who work as “butlers” in the field. The company’s product was built by KiwiTech, an IT services company with offices in D.C., New York and India.

What’s next for Lerner’s third startup? Marketing and customer acquisition. Lerner says the team is always focused on a month-by-month basis to drive more properties to the platform.

Series: Brooklyn

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