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Behind the Idea Europe Paytech

Behind the Idea: Rhino

With housing costs on the rise, Rhino, the renters fintech, was created to make peoples’ lives easier when it came to affording their homes.

Over the past five years, Rhino has expanded its security deposit insurance to a network of over six million homes (~14 per cent of the rental market) across the US and has saved American renters more than one billion dollars in upfront move-in costs. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Explaining the idea behind Rhino, The Fintech Times sat down with Paraag Sarva, CEO of Rhino to learn more:

Tell us more about your company and its offering
Paraag Sarva, CEO of Rhino
Paraag Sarva, CEO of Rhino

Rhino aims to modernise and simplify the rental process and make renting more affordable. We are building products to put money back in renters’ pockets, offering security deposit insurance, digital cash deposit management and compliance, and renter’s insurance.

Rather than paying thousands of dollars upfront, renters can make a small payment that protects their landlord. The same way a large upfront deposit does. We also offer renters a simple, affordable way to purchase contents and liability insurance.

We created a single platform allowing owners and operators to manage renters, security deposits and protection in one place. It streamlines the rental workflow, automates compliance and provides flexibility for everyone involved.

What problem was your company set up to solve?

For generations, the cash security deposit has been a headache for renters and landlords alike. At a time when the average American has less than $400 in savings for an emergency, there is $45billion locked up in rental security deposits nationwide. It’s time for a change. We founded Rhino to make renting more affordable and accessible by disrupting the traditional security deposit model.

We offer low-cost security deposit insurance policies that allow renters to keep their cash while giving landlords the protection they need in case of damages or unpaid rent. This presents a significant opportunity to an industry that has been slow to innovate, and we are proud to be doing our part to make an impact.

Our platform fosters trust and transparency between landlords and renters, reducing inefficiencies and streamlining the management of security deposits. And the industry has responded, allowing us to grow our partner network to over six million homes. Property managers can now list rentals with no security deposit required since the renter can access a Rhino policy for just a few dollars per month.

Since launch, how has your company evolved? 

Since 2017, our network has grown to six million rental homes and 14 per cent of the US rental market. The covid-19 pandemic illuminated the importance of and need for our products, and we experienced skyrocketing demand. Our staff went from about 45 at the beginning of 2020 to around 250 currently.

We began as a pioneer in security deposit insurance, but now we offer much more. We acquired Deposify in November to provide property managers with an end-to-end solution to manage cash deposits and deposit insurance in a single platform.

Just last month, we launched Rhino+, the first end-to-end deposit management and compliance platform for the rental industry. Now renters have a seamless, digital experience to satisfy their security deposit requirement while reducing owners’ compliance challenges. We also launched Credit+ to enable renters to build credit via rent payments.

We’ve convened a group of industry leaders in the Rhino Housing Innovation Council. This group of leading NMHC Top 50 executives and US mayors convened to incubate pragmatic, win-win solutions to challenges facing renters and property owners and published a white paper articulating such ideas.

We will continue to innovate to make renting a simpler and more affordable process for everyone involved.

What has been the biggest challenge or most ‘tricky moment’ to overcome?

Many processes in the rental industry haven’t changed in decades. Some of the most widely used software platforms were coded in the late 80s. There’s a tendency to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Often, the biggest challenge is fighting that inertia. But renters have choices, and increasingly they’re showing their preferences for landlords and properties that match how they transact the rest of their business – banking, shopping and the like. They do so digitally, often from their mobile devices. That’s the kind of experience we’re bringing to the rental industry.

What are your biggest achievements or ‘proudest moment’ so far?

Rhino hit two significant milestones last year: Use of our innovative security deposit insurance product reached two million homes nationwide, while total cash savings to renters hit $1billion since 2017. Through our partnerships with property owners nationwide, Rhino is giving renters greater flexibility and helping them access new homes at a lower cost.

Our most recent achievement is the launch of Rhino+, our complete end-to-end deposit management platform. Whether renters choose to take advantage of security deposit insurance or simply want to put down a cash deposit, this fully digital experience is light years ahead of what has been the norm in the rental industry – paper forms and physical checks.

How would you describe the culture of your company?

Our culture is collaborative and results-oriented. We are united in our desire to improve the rental process and ease burdens on property owners and renters, and this shared philosophy inspires us and pushes us to work harder. We know our goal is not possible without contributions from our entire team.

With teamwork in mind, we created a remote-first workplace. This allows us to find and hire the best talent, wherever they live. By enabling people to work where they want, we strengthen our team and our product.

What’s in store for the future?

Rhino is in over two million homes today in almost all 50 states. And we’re just getting started. There are over 40 million rental homes in the country, so for us to make the impact we want, we must continue our growth. We are expanding our partnerships and educating renters and property managers on housing affordability. Our product is constantly evolving based on the needs of our customers.

We plan to maintain the trust and momentum we have with our partners by continuing to put them first in product development, integrations and other upcoming decisions.

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