Tahoe entrepreneur creates tech platform to connect home owners, workforce
TRUCKEE, Calif. — The creator of an online platform that matches second-home owners to Truckee-Tahoe-area employees seeking seasonal or long-term rentals took home the Judge’s Choice award at the third annual Tahoe Pitch Showcase.
The “Shark Tank” themed competition on Monday, Sept. 9, featured six Tahoe-area entrepreneurs who gave 5-minute pitches to a live audience and a panel of judges.
Colin Frolich, along with his wife Kai, created Landing, a company similar to Airbnb but unique to mountain towns, to help local workers find housing.
“We moved here in the fall with the intention of establishing roots in Truckee,” said Frolich. “The first thing we had to do was find housing and we found that to be very challenging.”
A search for long-term housing on Craigslist resulted in only six results he said.
“This is an interesting challenge because we’re in a place with tons of houses,” he said.
Frolich used his technology experience working for Lyft and Airbnb, to develop a platform that would cater to mountain towns with an excess of vacant homes. He then teamed up with the Mountain Housing Council and Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to test the idea in Truckee.
“What we wanted to do was build an online platform where we can facilitate trust-based transactions similar to Airbnb,” said Frolich. “And that will allow for homeowners to frictionlessly add their listing and for renters to easily add their profiles.”
According to data from the Mountain Housing Council there are 25,569 housing units in eastern Placer County. Of those units, 6,980 are occupied by full-time residents, 1,590 are long-term rentals, 3,461 are short-term rentals and 17,310 second homes.
“We’re trying to be a piece of the solution,” said Frolich. “We need to build more affordable long-term housing units in this town, but we can unlock existing inventory today.”
GARNERING ‘GREAT LEADS’
To get the business off the ground they mailed information to second homeowners at their primary addresses which Frolich said “garnered a lot of great leads.”
The company also started a partnership with Tahoe Donner community which gave Landing free advertising. He said they are now looking to partner with the real estate community to better understand real estate trends.
“We were really hyper focused on how we could market to second homeowners,” he said.
Since launching in February they were able to get 100 homeowner leads which turned into 16 rentals and 40 locals housed with 500 people requesting housing.
“The goal was to use technology to solve this problem,” he said. “The initial pilot proved to us that there’s something here.”
Moving forward, he said they are looking to expand beyond Truckee into the Tahoe region and eventually to Mammoth.
To qualify, an applicant’s ranch or farm must have belonged to his or her family for at least 100 years and must be a working ranch or farm with a minimum of 160 acres. Operations with fewer than 160 acres must have gross yearly sales of at least $1,000.