Speedrent wants to make the process of renting a home stress-free. Similar to vacation rental platform Airbnb, the homegrown company serves as a online marketplace for long-term home rentals.
Unlike the traditional property listing websites, Speedrent cuts out the process of going through a middleman or property agent, allowing tenants and landlord to connect directly.
“So, what makes us interesting is that we focus on three key things - safety, equality and most importantly, everything is automated.”
So, what makes us interesting is that we focus on three key things - safety, equality and most importantly, everything is automated.
“What do we mean by safe? We use technology and work with credit reporting agencies to filter a tenant. So, we will make sure that you have great scoring before you can rent a house. That way it’s safer for the landlord,” says Wong.
Speedrent is completely free for landlords to list while the tenants are required to pay either RM399 for 1 year tenancy.
When it comes to the aspect of equality, Speedrent advocates the elimination of race-based listing - where those looking to rent a house are often asked about their race - a relatively common practice in the Malaysia and Singapore housing rental market.
“We educate potential landlords and tell them if they prefer a certain race, they might have to wait a bit longer to get a tenant because a listing opened to all races will be promoted on our website. Therefore, giving the listing a higher chance to get spotted by potential tenants,” says Wong.
A serial entrepreneur, Wong started, and sold three companies - including a content delivery platform, bought over by United Kingdom cloud computing firm, OnApp.
The idea to start Speedrent came up three years ago when Wong had to undergo a tedious process to lease his house. “The process was very long, everything had to be done manually.”
“I thought that we could save so much time if renting can be done digitally.” Wong, by then, had over decade experience in the internet technology sector.
Speedrent also tries add a more ‘personal touch’ to the service by taking on the mediator role should there be disputes during transaction.
“If a tenant or a landlord behaves badly, we will ban them.”
“There have instances where tenants would rent the house without even viewing it. The landlord would claim that everything looks good, similar the the photos posted. But when the tenants move in, it turned out differently.
“So, there’s a dispute but the rental transactions already went through. That’s when we have to get involved and talk to the landlord and point out that it is not what’s been promised,” he says.
Meanwhile, to ease landlords’ concerns, Speedrent has partnered Allianz Malaysia General Insurance to offer property security. For landlords who successfully lease with Speedrent, they can get secured with Allianz up to RM26000 for property or RM3700 for room - protecting landlords in cases like property damage and runaway tenants.
Since 2015, Speedrent has grown to 160,000 users. The 36-year old entrepreneur admits that his company still has a long way to go when it comes to taking a capturing a bigger market share in the housing rental space.
“I think there are a lot of mistakes that I’ve made in the past. Sometimes I’m too impulsive in making decisions and that costs us a lot of money.”
“I believe that entrepreneurs like myself are more action driven, we’d think of an idea and then immediately execute it. But everything has to go through proper planning,” says Wong.
“We lack funding right now. In fact, we intend to carry out crowdfunding initiatives to raise funds.”
He sees a lot of opportunity arising, particularly with greater talent movement globally.
“Everyone is talking about mobility these days. In fact, we’ve done a survey revealing that 30 percent (of tenants) terminate their rental contracts halfway due to job migration.”
“More people are uprooting to move to other cities or states. If they have bought a house, it will be difficult to move. So, rental gives them that flexibility.”