Over the last three years, a lot has changed at Peerspace. We launched our website, grew our team from two to 38, and expanded into four new markets. However, some things have remained constant: We’ve continued to build our culture around leading by example, valuing marketplace transparency, and bringing one-of-a-kind spaces to our guests.
Take a walk down memory lane with Peerspace Co-Founders, Rony Chammas and Matt Bendett, as they recount the early days of Peerspace and some of the trials and tribulations that they went through to make our business what it is today.
Early days: The Vision
How did you first get Peerspace off the ground?
Rony Chammas: I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and used my time as an NYU MBA student to test the Peerspace concept and lay the framework for the MVP. In a way, the MBA program was Peerspace’s “incubator” as I used so much of my second year obsessing over the peer-to-peer commercial real estate space.
How did you get Matt on board?
RC: I offered an empty desk to Matt to use for his consulting business. I would ask for his opinion on early Peerspace ideas and he would participate in brainstorms. After a few weeks, I just said, “Do you want to do this with me?” It was that easy.
Rony Chammas and Matt Bendett circa 2014
Starting and staying scrappy
Matt Bendett: Before we could get guests in the door, we needed supply. We started by going door-to-door all around San Francisco to see if spaces were interested. We’d even go into offices in the Financial District asking the receptionist questions about the space.
RC: I showed prospects screenshots of beautiful spaces on my camera roll to see if they had any interest in listing their own space. Some were hesitant, but many gave it a shot.
MB: We were scrappy from day one. We didn’t take a salary and had just enough to pay the first three employees. There was no goal too large or task too mundane to take on. I can pinpoint this stage in our company when we started building our company culture. If you wanted to get something done, you’d have to own it and see it through to completion. Everyday was a learning experience and a chance to improve.
Our “a-ha” moments
RC: When Google booked a mansion for an all-day brainstorming session, I was blown away that one of the biggest companies in the world still had a need to leave the office to find inspiration.
MB: In the early days, LinkedIn booked a three-day meeting in a photo studio for a recruiting workshop. The real “a-ha” moment for us was when we saw these companies coming to us to create productive experiences in our unique spaces.
Then 2014 vs. Now 2017
The LAUNCH festival
RC: The LAUNCH festival, which is where we publicly announced our launch, was a great springboard. The panel was asked, “Which company is going to be around in five years?” And four of the five said Peerspace. While we didn’t win the competition, we went into the experience just happy to have even been asked to participate. I was amazed when the next day, I received dozens of emails from angel investors that had been in the audience or streaming it live.
MB: This was the first time we got real validation. When Forbes published a story comparing Peerspace to the “Airbnb for small businesses,” our site crashed that day from all the traffic.
The journey to Series A
RC: At the time, there were still a lot of questions about the sharing economy and its different applications. We received a lot of “no’s” — A LOT — but I never thought that we had the wrong idea. We knew how valuable a frictionless booking platform would be, so we bootstrapped at first.
MB: Yeah, it was incredibly intense fundraising. Most of the potential investors were unsure — they didn’t know what to expect as we were entering an unknown category. However, Foundation Capital saw and believed in our vision and we’re really thankful for that.
First thirty hosts
RC: When we had 30 it felt like we had a decent amount of the San Francisco neighborhoods covered. Now we have over 2500 hosts on the platform and almost 7000 listings!
Booking and revenue
MB: I remember right after we moved into our current office in August of ‘15, we hit a major booking lifetime milestone, which at the time seemed incredible. Now we complete those milestones in less than a month.
Business from hotel chains
RC: When the first large hotel chain booked space with us, it was a big deal. Hotels have some of the largest space footage of functional space, but we provided something they couldn’t add to their portfolios.
MB: Launching the website was a big deal in June of 2015. After a year of scraping by with an MVP mobile app, we finally launched the web app and that really opened up so much potential.
Series A funding
RC: Certainly, fundraising was huge, especially the series A round.
Where will Peerspace be three years from now?
RC: We will be booking activities that are on a much larger scale. Our platform will evolve to handle the most complex events, even an activity as large as a convention.
MB: We will have more tools for nuanced bookings. I also think that three years from now we should expect to be the booking platform for anything outside the home or office.