While there are certain advantages to renting, such as avoiding maintenance hassles, many renters still feel as if they are effectively throwing money away every month when they pay their rent. Piata, a New Jersey-based firm, is on a mission to make tenants feel appreciated and help them establish credit, and it has acquired $13 million in Series An investment to do so.
The firm, which is set to launch in mid-2020, works with property management organizations to make its services available to tenants. According to the firm, it had a 600 percent increase in new customers, a roughly 300 percent increase in new property management company partners, and a 1,100 percent increase in income from January 2021 to January 2022.
According to Piata co-founder and CEO Lily Liu, the platform is used by little over 220,000 tenants. Liu told TechCrunch that his company is the “first and only service” that reports rent payments to the main credit bureaus for free (more on this later). Its goal is to close the credit discrimination gap for renters, who have historically struggled to save for a down payment and improve their credit enough to qualify for a home loan.
Piata was founded by Liu with the objective of allowing tenants to “get more out of their largest monthly spend.” She also mentions that she has been a renter and a landlord throughout her adult life. “As a renter, one of the biggest regrets I have is that all of those late rent payments haven’t helped my credit score. “There have been no additional perks, benefits, or equity-building opportunities as a result of them,” Liu told TechCrunch. “And it’s probably one of the main pain points that all of the renters now on our platform have — that they feel that even if they get a fantastic bargain on rent, it’s money down the drain.”
Piata intends to reward renters who pay their bills on time by offering them in-app cash called Piata Cash, which they can use to shop at over 300,000 different stores, including Amazon, Starbucks, and Target. Renters can also use the startup’s credit reporting services to have their on-time rent payments recorded to credit agencies, which can help them improve their credit ratings. “So, just like homeowners develop equity and credit history with every on-time mortgage payment,” Liu explained, “you can do the same thing with your rent payment using Piata.”
While other organizations allow renters to have their payments reported to credit agencies, Liu says Pinata is the “only platform that provides all renters with free rewards and credit reporting chances.” Other sites, she explained, typically require a renter to register through a property management firm or landlord.
“On our platform, you can rent from anyone and be direct to consumer renter,” Liu explained. “You can sign up for free to start utilizing our service.” “While you are not paying rent through our site, we still require records demonstrating that a renter has paid rent.” Then we go through all of the bonuses and awards.”
The firm collaborates with property management organizations, which can provide customers incentives and other privileges. “While our program is focused on getting rent in the door on time,” Liu told TechCrunch, “they want to promote a whole host of additional positive tenant behavior including unit maintenance, early lease renewals, renter referral, surveys, and so on.”
Simply put, according to Liu, the company is on a mission to better the financial lives of the more than 100 million renters in the United States while also improving the tenant-landlord relationship.
The business plan of the startup is multi-faceted. Property management businesses and landlords who sign up for a monthly service subscription for a premium customisable program generate cash. On the business development side of what it does, it generates income through fees from brands and partners. Piata had previously received startup capital of $7 million. The company’s most recent round was headed by Wilshire Lane Capital, bringing the total amount raised to $20 million.