• Rachel Aboodi

Lettey: Find a Home, Powered by your Social Network

Origin Story


If you’ve ever looked for an apartment in NYC, you’ve no doubt experienced tons of pain points when using the existing rental platforms. Not NOT looking at you, Streeteasy. The interface is outdated and more importantly, there is no social proof incorporated into this stressful consumer finance decision. Co-Founder of Lettey, Jessica Rosner, experienced this frustration firsthand when she was looking for a sublet in LA for her summer internship and had no idea what neighborhood would be the best fit for her. She also didn’t have any close friends to reach out to, but ultimately found a place to live through her extended network.


Shocked that in 2020 consumers didn’t have a rental marketplace that incorporated social context into the apartment search process, Jessica took the first steps to create a platform that empowered renters to optimize their home search by unlocking users’ extended networks.


With prior experience as an entrepreneur, Jessica decided to join forces with her MBA classmate, Nick Szuch, who has deep expertise in the real estate industry. Together they conducted extensive customer discovery to validate the significance of the problem that they were setting out to solve. Their findings confirmed their hypothesis: peer-to-peer influence is the most motivational marketing tactic for 21- to 35-year-olds, particularly in making large consumption decisions. In particular, 84% of renters said they were more likely to rent where their friends rent.


The Lettey App


Launched in January 2022, Lettey is a new rental platform that allows users to see where their friends are living and how they rate their neighborhoods. By linking a Facebook account and/or contacts, Lettey shows users the trusted and authentic feedback of people they know, eliminating the mystery customers so often experience when deciding where to live. For example, when relocating to a new city for work or school, you may face the exact dilemma that Jessica did when moving to LA. Perhaps, you started a new job in April 2020, you’ve never met your co-workers, let alone changed out of your sweatpants for a work day. But now you’re starting to hear murmurs of returning to the office and you’ll have to move to a new city. Lettey aims to eliminate (or at least reduce) the uncertainty that comes along with this major change.



From the consumer’s perspective, similar to other home search platforms, Lettey allows users to filter criteria to only show units that fit their needs. Each listing contains images, a brief description and included amenities. In addition, users are able to contact the listing’s representative directly from the app. If you’re interested in a listing, Lettey will auto-generate a message for you to send to the broker or building manager via text message or email. You can apply to lease directly in the app as well, making Lettey a one-stop shop for the apartment search process.


For those in the midst of an apartment hunt, there are three use cases for Lettey. The first is traditional full-term leases, for which Lettey partners with brokerages and building management companies to incorporate their automated data feeds into the app. This structure ensures that all units listed on the app are actively available and not “stale”, an issue that often arises when using other search tools. If you’ve ever reached out to a listing agent about a specific unit only to find out it was rented weeks ago, you’ll be able to relate. Because Lettey has automated data feeds on the platform, it’s able to prevent this discrepancy and once an apartment is rented, it will automatically be removed from the app within an hour.


The second use case for Lettey is the sublet option. Approved individuals can list their apartment as a sublet on the platform. Prior to being listed on the platform, the sublet will be validated by the Lettey team in order to safeguard the credibility of its listings. This offering truly takes advantage of the peer-to-peer feature that is unique to Lettey as sublets that are listed by those in one’s extended social network will be highlighted to users. Users can see that they are connected to the individual who is looking to sublet his/her unit. When subletting, renters may feel more comfortable leasing to someone they know (even distantly) and would take advantage of this piece of social information.


Lastly, Lettey also partners with co-living companies to include short-term listings on the platform. Compared to competitors, it’s unique to see all three of these options in one central location.


From the broker’s or management company’s perspective, it is completely free to add listings on Lettey. This is unique compared to other rental platforms – for example, today, StreetEasy takes a 30% cut from brokers. In addition, given the peer-to-peer value proposition, leads generated through Lettey are more likely to convert as users are already more informed than the average renter. Lastly, the platform provides brokers and management companies with the opportunity to freely advertise listings to their extended social networks if they choose to take advantage of the social value-add by linking their Facebook and contacts to their Lettey accounts.


Business Model


For future renters, brokers and management companies, Lettey is 100% free to use. The team’s main focus since the launch has been to eliminate switching costs from competition by having a robust listing base. To this end, Lettey has partnered with large NYC brokerages and management companies to include their portfolios on the platform. As the inventory grows, the team will hone in on various ways to monetize the userbase as it scales. In its infancy, the platform is equipped to generate lead generation revenues through sales of third-party products. Lettey has two key partnerships – one with TransUnion and one with Lemonade. When users sign leases that require background checks and/or rental insurance, they can access TransUnion and Lemonade offerings directly in the Lettey app.


In the future, Lettey plans to add incremental premium features and incorporate targeted advertising into the platform in order to highlight neighborhood vendors.


Conclusion


Lettey is still very early on in its journey but will be a fun startup to watch. Real estate is one of the industries that hasn’t yet been inundated by new technology solutions that are centered around social connections. Innovators like Lettey may be part of a larger shift in the industry landscape.


Right now, the app is only available in NYC but keep an eye out for new cities soon!


Download Lettey here!


Follow Lettey on Instagram or check out their website!