Rhino announced the launch of its security deposit alternative for renters and landlords in New York City and its seed financing of $1.94 million, led by ff Venture Capital.
A major new player in the high-growth “Real Estate Tech” and “InsureTech” sectors, Rhino replaces the old way of doing business – large upfront security deposits paid by renters and escrows managed by landlords – with a smarter alternative that is more affordable for renters and headache-free for landlords.
Lakehouse Ventures, Picus Capital, FJ Labs, and Red Dog also participated in the financing, along with a number of angels and real estate owners. In addition, Rhino is partnering with Canopius US Insurance who will underwrite this new, innovative product.
Emerging from 18 months of research and development, Rhino will initially focus on the New York City real estate market, where average rents have reached over $4,000/month in Manhattan. Renters often pay in excess of $12,000 up front for a Manhattan apartment lease, a total that can include first month’s rent, a security deposit, a broker’s fee and application fees. Based on a recent survey of 1,000 renters, Rhino found that 84% of respondents would choose its product over security deposits.
With Rhino, renters pay just a small monthly fee instead of a security deposit while landlords receive double the protection for the same items typically covered by security deposits. Pricing is personalized for each renter and starts as low as $19/month for a $2,500/month apartment. In turn, Rhino commits to insure the landlord and only seeks reimbursement from the renter after a review of the issue from both sides.
Rhino will use the seed capital to hire new talent, continue building its core technology, and implement a targeted marketing strategy for the New York City market.
“We believe that the originality and simplicity of Rhino’s offering is a game-changer for young renters, particularly in competitive rental markets like New York. The legacy cash security deposit category has yet to see any significant innovation, and the team from Rhino brings both the experience and the ingenuity to make a real impact on the industry,” said Adam J. Plotkin, Partner at ff Venture Capital. “Rhino’s potential to solve the cash deposit pain point for renters while also adding value to landlords is a win-win for all parties.”
“With prices through the roof, renters at every income level are more frustrated than ever with the outdated rules of renting,” said Paraag Sarva, Rhino co-founder and CEO. “Making matters worse, many people don’t realize that it’s also getting tougher for landlords, with rent concessions reaching all-time highs. Our goal is to leverage new technology to improve renting for both renters and landlords.”
With an extensive background in real estate, technology, finance, and insurance, Rhino’s management team has firsthand experience as both renters and landlords. The team is focused on developing technology and products that will usher the real estate market into a new era by making the rental process easier for both renters and landlords.
“As North America’s largest manager of residential communities, we are always on the lookout for products that make life easier for both renters and landlords,” noted Marc Kaplan, managing director, FirstService Residential, a launch partner working with Rhino. “Rhino is a no-brainer – a smart, easy-to-use product that will streamline the leasing process, no matter what side of the rent check you’re on. We’ve paid close attention to Rhino over the last year and are excited to bring it to our customers.”
“We’re delighted to collaborate with Rhino on this customer centric approach to solving a longstanding issue for both tenants and landlords. We believe this represents real insurance product innovation,” said Andrew Fowles, president and chief underwriting officer, Canopius US Insurance. “We have worked hand in hand with Rhino throughout the development of this product and look forward to the launch and its future growth.