A new Australian startup that launched this week lets people to sign up for free mid- to long-term accommodation by offering their labour to help out around the house.
The Room Xchange platform works like a mixture of Airtasker and AirBnB — no money can be exchanged between host and guest, but the boarder offers labour for tasks the host puts on their profile, such as babysitting, gardening and cooking, for up to 14 hours per week.
Founder and chief executive Ludwina Dautovic said her idea addresses a need for many young Australians locked out of the property market and homeowners with no spare cash after paying off the mortgage.
“The Room Xchange provides immediate relief to critical social and economic issues by unlocking 7 million unused spare rooms across Australia,” she said.
“Hosts get their time back and guests gain access to affordable mid- to long term housing.”
The startup, which already claims to have users in 24 countries from a soft launch earlier this year, generates revenue by charging a $2 per day for the duration of each stay from both the host and guest. However, to lure new users, for a limited time it’s offering the first exchange for free.
Economist and Grattan Institute productivity growth director Dr Jim Minifie, who was at Tuesday’s launch in Melbourne, said the real estate sector had done very well out of the sharing economy concept.
“I believe new businesses in this sector will benefit from AirBnB’s success, as many people have had positive experiences — so they are more willing to try new platforms,” he said.
The project has been bootstrapped thus far, with Dautovic mortgaging the family home to get the company off the ground. The venture is now seeking its first external capital, opening up the round at the launch this week and aiming to close on June 30.