Pool rentals mak­ing a splash

Home­own­ers use app, web­site to make money on back­yard ameni­ties

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ashton Ni­chols

DAL­LAS — Mike Owens throws a pool party sev­eral times a week, but not for him.

Owens, 53, rents his pool in Wax­a­hachie, Texas, out to strangers through a web­site and app called Swim­ply. Last month, he made nearly $4,200.

Swim­ply.com is like Airbnb, but for pools. Pool own­ers charge an hourly rate, rang­ing from $15 to $60 and then can add an ad­di­tional fee per guest. Pools are also listed as be­ing ei­ther “fam­ily-friendly” or “party-friendly.” The av­er­age pool costs $45 an hour and pric­ing is based on pool size, ameni­ties, tim­ing and de­mand.

Swim­ply takes a 15% fee from the host and charges those rent­ing a 10% fee, said spokes­woman Day­lyn Wepp­ner. Any­one swim­ming must sign a li­a­bil­ity waiver through Swim­ply to pro­tect hosts. Hosts also don’t need a per­mit to list their pool.

The New York-based com­pany launched in late 2018 and raised more than $1 mil­lion from pri­vate in­vestors.

Swim­ply co-founder Bu­nim Laskin pitched his app last year on the TV show Shark Tank, ask­ing for $300,000 for a 5% stake in his com­pany. He walked away with­out a deal.

But that episode served its pur­pose. Owens said he dis­cov­ered Swim­ply from the Shark Tank ap­pear­ance and de­cided to sign up his pool in June.

He takes pride in his back­yard. He said he’s spent more than $250,000 on it and has a pool, a com­mer­cial-grade play­ground, a bas­ket­ball court, a vol­ley­ball court, a zip line, a lounge area and a grilling area. He rents out his pool for $60 an hour and has a $10 per guest fee af­ter five guests.

His pool stays booked through the week­end and even some­times through­out the week with peo­ple look­ing for a way to cool off from the Texas heat, Owens said.

Asher Wein­berger, a co-founder of Swim­ply, rents out his pool in New York. He said he has made $20,000 in the last month.

“You can make a few thou­sand dol­lars a day,” Wein­berger said. “Data shows a pool is used around 15% of its avail­able time and the other 85% it’s sit­ting there. You can turn it into not just a few hun­dred dol­lars a week, but a few thou­sand dol­lars a week, eas­ily.”

His co-founder, Laskin, came up with the idea to mon­e­tize pools af­ter he no­ticed that his neigh­bor’s pools were al­ways empty, Wein­berger said. He de­cided to ask a neigh­bor if he could help pay for the ex­penses in ex­change for a few hours each week of pool time. Soon, the en­tire block wanted to go to that neigh­bor’s pool.

Busi­ness at Swim­ply has boomed be­cause of COVID-19, post­ing more than 2,000% year for year growth, Wein­berger said.

Why? Home­bound peo­ple are look­ing for things to do. While pub­lic pools were closed at the be­gin­ning of the pan­demic, peo­ple didn’t have to shut down their pri­vate pools.

“We have had pos­si­bly one of the only safe, truly con­tact­less, healthy, vi­able op­tions for peo­ple,” Wein­berger said.

Once a party is over, Owens said he adds ex­tra chem­i­cals to his pool to kill any bac­te­ria or al­gae and has a ser­vice that cleans his pool weekly. Clients have ranged from fam­i­lies with chil­dren to adults look­ing to have a party, Owens said. Some­times, he even joins the party. “I’m of­ten in­vited to stay,” he said. “Not only is this per­son pay­ing the 400, 500, 600 bucks when they’re there, they’re also a bunch of sin­gle adults drink­ing and hav­ing a good time and I get to join.”

JUAN FIGUEROA/DAL­LAS MORN­ING NEWS

Adri­ana Banda, sec­ond from left, and fam­ily mem­bers re­lax in a pool she rented on the Swim­ply app Sun­day in Wax­a­hachie, Texas.

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