I’m extremely excited to announce our Series A investment in Swimply, a fast-growing peer-to-peer pool-sharing marketplace founded by Bunim Laskin and Asher Weinberger.
If you’ve ever experienced a summer in the suburbs, you’ve probably had the experience of peering over your neighbor’s fence and coveting their pool. Swimply makes this dream a reality, connecting consumers with private swimming pools in their local neighborhoods for private parties, family swim time, exercise/lap swimming, swim lessons and/or general poolside relaxation time. Most people quickly label Swimply as another iteration of the “Airbnb for X or Y’’ vertical marketplace, but upon closer inspection, we’ve never seen a more under-monetized and shareable asset with attractive marketplace dynamics.
Strong 2-sided network effects
As a consumer venture investor, investing in two-sided marketplaces with true network effects is the holy grail for viral, organic growth. Swimply realizes direct network effects with a strong positive feedback cycle- additional supply (pools) brings additional demand (swimmers) and vice versa. The average Swimply booking is 4–6 swimmers, with natural group and referral dynamics. These viral, organic growth loops drive asymmetric growth within each market.
Adds significant value to both supply and demand sides
Any pool owner will attest to the high cost of not only installing a pool but also maintaining it. Annual pool maintenance costs can run anywhere from $3–5K or more. With most private pools being significantly under-utilized, Swimply allows pool owners to both amortize the initial pool capex and defray expensive maintenance costs with meaningful income. On the demand side, Swimply connects consumers to local pools in their neighborhoods for a premium private swimming experience, a significant step-up from getting splashed in a crowded, lukewarm public pool, fighting for space in the locker room and “saving” poolside lounge chairs. Pool owners can now tap into a significant, monetization channel while consumers immediately realize an elevated swimming experience.
Taps into / capitalizes on existing user behavior
We’ve seen across our portfolio that the fastest-growing consumer products and services don’t try to change existing consumer behavior. Pool-sharing already exists between friends, families and neighbors on both informal (and sometimes formal) arrangements. Swimply doesn’t try to change this behavior but instead facilitates pool discovery, incentivizes the best pool safety/cleanliness standards and protects hosts with liability insurance.
High frequency usage
The best marketplace products are used frequently. Swimply caters to consumers with a hyperlocal product that can be utilized every day. These “local escapes” can be weekly family pool fun, regular swimming lessons, daily lap swimming/exercise or even just tanning/lounging. As opposed to marketplaces geared more towards episodic travelers, Swimply’s local focus and wide array of use cases encourage repeat bookings and strong habit-building behavior.
Expands the total addressable market (TAM)
Bunim and Asher have always had the vision to democratize access to swimming for everyone. The Swimply marketplace encourages new or infrequent swimmers that (1) may not have access to a public pool, (2) may have reservations about swimming in public or (3) just don’t enjoy the community pool experience to become regular life-long swimmers.
Additionally, pool hosts are already listing adjacent backyard assets such as hot tubs, game courts, patios, gazebos, etc. which can also be shared within the Swimply community. We see Swimply’s TAM as a large and expanding market opportunity not only with pools but also any premium outdoor resource.
Often the most important variable in a startup’s success is nailing the market timing. The 2020 lockdown accelerated demand for Swimply’s product. With community pools closed for the summer, Swimply provided the perfect “local escape” for families seeking to get out of the house and find relief from the heat. Realizing strong network effects, Swimply quickly eclipsed >40,000 bookings last year. Even as the world emerges from lockdown, consumers continue to value Swimply as a superior, premium swimming experience.
And why hasn’t this been done before?
Privately owned pools are a highly fragmented supply. There is no comprehensive database of private pools. Amassing a significant initial supply of host pools to drive meaningful liquidity is a significant barrier to entry. Swimply’s greatest asset are its two founders, Bunim Laskin and Asher Weinberger. As a 21-year old first-time founder, Bunim bootstrapped Swimply and built the initial supply of pools by identifying all of the pools in his town on Google Earth and subsequently knocking on close to a hundred doors to get the first cohort of ~8 pools on the platform. Building the initial supply and liquidity in this space takes true grit and determination, attributes that this team has in droves.
We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Swimply team and help them to realize their vision to democratize swimming access to everyone.