With a $52M Raise, LeaseLock Wants to Take the Rent Deposit Hassle Out of Leasing

Breanna De Vera

Breanna de Vera is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is currently a senior at the University of Southern California, studying journalism and English literature. She previously reported for the campus publications The Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media.

With a $52M Raise, LeaseLock Wants to Take the Rent Deposit Hassle Out of Leasing

LeaseLock has made rent deposit-free to renters of hundreds of thousands of apartments owned by companies like Greystar and Cushman Wakefield. It is now also eyeing single family portfolios.

The lease insurance platform closed a $52 million Series B round, and will use the funding to continue supporting the 1.5 million homes it insures, while looking to expand its insurance types to include individual owners.


"We're not playing this as just a deposit game," said chief executive and co-founder Derek Merrill. "[There is] a real need for an insurer tech platform for not just rental housing, but also for [single family housing]."

LeaseLock was founded in 2013 by Merrill and president Reichen Kuhl, who connected through Mucker Capital's accelerator program.

Derek Merrill and Reichen Kuhl are the co-founders of LeaseLock.

Kuhl had been struggling with the rental process in New York, and the pair realized that eliminating deposits could make the payment process smoother for renters that wouldn't otherwise meet the criteria. The company launched in 2016, after they put together an insurance product that would scale for future growth.

"There are almost 50 million apartment homes in the United States," said Merrill. "About a third of those are enterprise and another two thirds are kind-of independent owners. And if you look across all of those, you could ask who would want [to deal with a] deposit in any one of those? And the answer is nobody. So the market is gigantic. And I think we're just scratching the surface."

The Marina Del Rey company eliminates deposit payments for renters by giving them the ability to pay a small monthly fee in addition to their rent. This payment is integrated in enterprise software systems, so that there is no additional paperwork renters have to complete. If any accidental damage to the property occurs, renters are protected through LeaseLock's insurance.

It operates in all 50 states, and has insured $1 billion in leases to date. Over the course of 2020, the number of homes on the platform grew fivefold, to 1.5 million.

There are a few other companies in the deposit replacement market, like Jetty and Rhino, but those are consumer facing and don't integrate into the software landlords used to collect rent.

"When we started pursuing this kind of integrated approach, it really started to set us apart," Merrill said. "Operators just want to get out of the deposit completely. And the only way to do that is to rip it out of your actual software workflows."

The round was led by London-based Westerly Winds and Wildcat Venture Partners. Its other investors include SoftBank Ventures Asia, Vertex Ventures US, Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures, American Family Ventures, Moderne Ventures, Strata Equity Group, Veteran Capital and Mucker Capital.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Motional Links With Uber to Make Robotaxis a Reality

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Motional
Image courtesy of Motional

Motional, a self-driving taxi startup backed by Hyundai, will partner with Uber to bring its robotic taxis to cities throughout the United States within the next decade as part of its push to get people more comfortable with the concept of taking a ride in a driverless electric vehicle.

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