Communal living companies are joining Airbnb, Lyft and other peer-to-peer marketplaces using sponsorship to promote their services.

Companies in the category include P2P shared housing marketplaces (Roomi, etc.), co-living housing solutions (HubHaus, etc.) and other shared and short-term housing startups (Common, Ollie, Starcity, etc.).

While their services all differ, they all target one primary consumer: Millennials.

Roomi, for example, targets college students who live in (or plan to move to) New York City, Los Angeles and other major cities, while HubHaus markets all-inclusive living spaces to young urban professionals.

The companies tie into the growing trend of renters looking to cultivate meaningful relationships and experiences at home. That includes group yoga sessions, catered dinners and other experiences where renters can bond.

In addition, the companies are gaining interest from venture capitalists. Shared and short-term housing startups have received more than $100 million in funding over the past few years, according to TechCrunch.

And at least one company is using sponsorship to support its growth plans.

Roomi will sponsor roughly 30 festivals this summer as part of a multifaceted partnership with Townsquare Media, a diversified media company that owns radio stations, online publications and live events.

The events include four regional music festivals (Taste of Country and Mountain Jam in Hunter, N.Y.; WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn. and Country Jam in Grand Junction, Colo.) and roughly two dozen local festivals in radio markets.

The festivals mark an expansion of the year-old partnership between the two companies. Until this year, Townsquare was charged with running digital marketing campaigns on behalf of Roomi in the New York City market.

“We expanded the relationship from the bottom of the funnel to the top of the funnel to drive brand awareness, and to do that we have introduced our radio and event platforms,” said Michael Josephs, Townsquare Media executive vice president of business development.

Roomi will use Taste of Country and Mountain Jam to reach Millennials who live in Boston and New York City, both of which serve as feeder markets to the back-to-back June festivals.

“Music festivals draw our core audience: Millennials living in urban areas,” said Adam Gleicher, Roomi director of growth.

One key attraction: the ability to build a rapport with attendees during the multiday festivals.

“The festivals give us an opportunity to build a relationship over three days, as opposed to an Instagram ad that people see for five seconds and then go on with their day. We’ll have face-to-face interaction and build lasting impact.”

Roomi is sponsoring campgrounds at Taste of Country and Mountain Jam to promote the co-living nature of its roommate finding service. The company will host photo taking stations at the campgrounds, distribute cobranded items and give attendees the opportunity to win a free month’s rent in exchange for downloading the Roomi app.

Brand ambassadors will roam the campground and engage attendees, said Gleicher, noting that brand representatives visited parks and college campuses as part of the three-year-old company’s first marketing campaign in New York City.

“We believe in the power of face-to-face interaction.”

Roomi will use the local festivals to build awareness in front of college students. The events take place in Lansing, Mich. (Taste of Country), Fort Collins, Colo. (Taste of Fort Collins) and other college markets.

“Our goal for the remainder of the year is to engage college students living with roommates who will potentially be moving. This is an opportunity to get into the college market early and start to build relationships.”

Roomi will measure success based on the number of app downloads and spikes in user traffic during and after the festivals.

Other Roomi markets include Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco. The company also operates  in London following its 2018 acquisition of Study Abroad Apartments.

Startup Headquarters Total Funding Model
Common New York $60M Operates a network of co-living houses in multiple cities.
Starcity San Francisco $20M Rents rooms in furnished flats; offers organized outings, cleaning and other services.
Roomi New York $17M Vets and matches roommates.
Ollie New York $15M Co-living in studios and shared suites with hotel-like services and group events.
HubHaus Los Altos, Calif. $11M Rents rooms in shared houses, targeting working professionals.
HomeShare San Francisco $6M Shared housing in downtown high-rises, including standard and partitioned rooms.
Flip New York $3M Marketplace for sublets and short-term housing.
Bedly New York $3M Move-in ready apartments and shared units for short-term rentals.
Roam New York $3M Operates an international network of co-living spaces.
Source: TechCrunch