May 10, 2022 - Business

A peek at the future of Texas pool-sharing

Illustration of a dollar sign made out of the tiles at the bottom of a pool.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

As near triple-digit temperatures descend on Texas, pool time is taking on greater appeal.

The big picture: Nascent pool-sharing companies are betting that the market for opening up private homes to leisure activities extends beyond the pandemic — and are making a big push in Texas this summer.

  • "We see tremendous opportunity, given the high rate of middle class pool ownership. You have the heat there. And nobody minds driving distances," Asher Weinberger, co-founder of Swimply, told Axios.

How it works: It's like Airbnb for pools. Swimming pool owners rent out their backyard spaces for chunks of time.

What they're saying: The pandemic came with a silver lining for Swimply, which had just gotten off the ground and is now gunning for a $1 billion valuation. "Demand went through the roof" as the pandemic got underway, Weinberger said.

  • "We managed to provide an important service for people — including hosts who lost their jobs. And on the guest side, something we took a lot of pride in was providing a place for people struggling physically or mentally."

Yes, but: The ebbing of the pandemic means "you can make your kid's' birthday now at Chuck E. Cheese again, instead of someone's pool," Weinberger acknowledged.

Zoom out: Other pool-sharing companies — such as Swimmy — are also vying for guests and hosts.

  • Competition comes from old-fashioned public pools — we hear there's a popular one in Central Austin; Weinberger referred to public pools as "filthy."
  • Of note: Locally, pool-sharing companies don’t operate under the regulatory framework of home-sharing platforms like Airbnb.

We checked in with a Swimply host to ask about her experience.

Jacqueline Mancilla lives northeast of Round Rock, almost to Hutto, and she and her husband finished their pool just at the outset of the pandemic.

  • Both of their incomes had been "challenged" by the pandemic, she told Axios — she owns a translation business that works with schools, and her husband runs a commercial cleaning company that services gyms.
  • Renting out their backyard pool has covered their maintenance costs and put money in their pocket.
  • "It brings me so much happiness when I see other people enjoy it as well," she says, adding it gets rented out to families, single mothers needing a parenting break and bachelorette parties.

Details: Swimply does not require hosts to provide bathrooms — but says most of them do.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Gigi Sukin: On a long-weekend trip to Austin in May 2021, a group of a dozen friends swiped on Swimply for a scorching poolside day, complete with BBQ delivered from Valentina's. For a group, it's affordable, a fun cool-down and a relatively effortless experience.

What's next: Weinberger said the company wants to set up ways people can share their tennis courts, music studios, woodworking shops and gourmet kitchens.

  • "Every passion needs a space," he said.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Swimply's co-founder is Asher Weinberger, not Asher Weinberg.

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