A Turkish startup initially founded to help Erasmus Exchange students find accommodation before studying abroad has taken off, spreading like wildfire to 12 European cities, including Berlin, Madrid, Porto and Ankara.
According to a report from Frohsinn, Switzerland where the company derived some of its seed investment, ErasmusInn sold a total of 15 thousand nights in the period since January 2016 on the German island of Ruegen earning local homeowners a 400,000 Euro income.
Meanwhile ErasmusInn Siedenburg in Germany is working on virtual reality applications to outdo global competitors such as Nestpick.co by winning business from the United States and Australia.
Launched last year, ErasmusInn is now a social business catering to all manner of exchange students, home seekers, students, trainees and expats, many from institutions such as AISEC, a not-for-profit organization providing young people with internship and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe.
"We were international students not so long ago and we’re the only platform to put students first," says ErasmunInn co-Founder and CEO Can Köseoğlu.
"By enabling verified hosts to rent out their spare rooms in cities all over Europe, we offer a safer, smarter and more secure way to book accommodation than traditional property listing websites."
Unlike the Airbnb style of rental, ErasmusInn delivers users a long term stay.
"The majority of AirBnBnb hosts rent out their space like a hotel and thus charge premium prices. Even though Airbnb has implemented a monthly rent system most hosts make just as enough renting out their rooms for a few days," Köseoğlu clarifes.
"EramusInn is more about sharing rising living costs and finding the perfect flatmate to live with for 6 to 12 months rather than using your spare room as a hotel.
"We are actively looking for hosts that want to live with international students to either improve their English, learn a new language and ultimately want to become global citizens.
"We also understand the importance of living with strangers that's why we match hosts and students using their Facebook likes to give a better match," Köseoğlu adds.
"ErasmusInn's search algorithm works in a different way and we allow hosts to choose preferred gender so they don't get ranked lower when they decide to decline a student's request."
ErasmisInn is the brainchild of Can Köseoğlu, who along with Nicolas Akavi (COO) and Ender Akgul (CTO) developed it as a highly lean initiative based on product testing, improvements when returns warranted it and functioning according to what they describe as a "100 per cent happy customers first" policy.
User numbers reached thousands in a short period of time.
Unlike a typical online rental platform, ErasmusInn allows users to search by the university they're attending using a map then filter by price.
The system resembles the Airbnb platform in that students pay the rent of the house using the online payment system, however the host only receives the payment once the student reaches the accommodation. For safety reasons, the host and tenant are prevented from contacting each other until the transaction is complete and the student has arrived at the property.
ErasmusInn charges a commission from both landlord and student in the order of 4 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. While there's no limit on the length of stay for the tenant, the average lease term is 150 days.
In terms of growth, Köseoğlu says the company wants to maintain its focus on Ruegen, build scope around work and travel, including opening in the United States and Australia this year. By December 2016, he says ErasmusInn is aiming to increase sales to 250 thousand nights accommodation.
"We are also looking to raise further capital, develop an Android app and look at a training platform in the market," Köseoğlu says. "Having expanded abroad we need to keep an eye on those markets.
"However, in addition we plan to debut a Voice Recognition application shortly along with a photo navigation application allowing home seekers to simulate a landlord's property which will be showcased in coming months."