scorecardLyric, which raised $185 million from backers like Airbnb and Fifth Wall, shares its secret sauce for Instagram-worthy rentals.
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Lyric, which raised $185 million from backers like Airbnb and Fifth Wall, shares its secret sauce for Instagram-worthy rentals.

Lyric, which raised $185 million from backers like Airbnb and Fifth Wall, shares its secret sauce for Instagram-worthy rentals.
Finance3 min read

Lyric Philly

Lyric

One of Lyric's Philadelphia units. Each unit features local art and photography, as well as a selection of vinyl records of hometown musical artists.

  • Lyric, which operates in 14 US cities, recently raised $160 million in Series B funding - a combination of equity and debt financing from Airbnb, real-estate incumbents like Tishman Speyer and RXR Realty and real estate tech VC Fifth Wall.
  • Lyric shared what they called their "design ethos" deck with Business Insider. The slides lay out the company's approach to rentals that are something between a hotel room and an apartment, and geared for a business traveller.
  • Airbnb has continued to push into corporate-focused rentals. On Monday, it said that it had bought Urbandoor, a listing site for furnished apartments geared towards professionals.

  • Ravi Hampole, chief experience officer at Lyric, talked through the ways the startup uses the guide to anchor design decisions and attract real estate partners.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Anonymous hotel rooms, plastic key cards, and an ice machine down the hall: these are all "don't" at Airbnb-backed Lyric.

The short-term apartment rental company is betting that business travelers value design and a homey atmosphere enough to leave behind their chain-hotel loyalty points. And while it has billed itself as "the leading tech and data-powered real estate and lifestyle hospitality company," Lyric leans heavily on aesthetics.

"We've moved into the Instagram-era of hospitality consumption," Andrew Kitchell, Lyric's CEO and co-founder, told Business Insider.

Lyric gave Business Insider an exclusive look at what it calls its "design ethos" deck. The company says it uses the guide internally as a framework for design decisions, and also when presenting to real-estate developers they're looking to partner with. Lyric leases space, remodels it and then rents it out on a short-term basis.

Lyric's chief experience officer, Ravi Hampole, has previously worked as VP of global brand design at Starwood Hotels, which was bought by Marriott in 2016. Starwood is known for its brands like Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, and more.

"There is no other company in this space that has focused this much on brand and design," Hampole said about Lyric.

Ravi Hampole

Lyric

Ravi Hampole, Chief Experience Officer at Lyric

Lyric has apartments geared towards travelers in 14 US cities, and snagged $160 million in a combination of debt and equity funding in April in a Series B round led by Airbnb, which also lists the smaller company's rentals on its site. Lyric has raised $185 million in total, but declined to share its valuation with Business Insider.

Airbnb was joined in the latest fundraising round by real-estate firms RXR Realty and Tishman Speyer, as well as Fifth Wall, a big VC investor in companies that combine tech and real estate that also was part of Lyric's Series A.

Read more: Investing in real estate tech companies like Zillow and Compass is a nearly $15 billion opportunity. 3 top VCs break down the areas and startups they think will boom.

But Lyric is not along in looking to combine short-term apartment rentals with more hotel-like accommodations. In July, Sonder said it closed a$210 million Series D funding round that brought its valuation north of $1 billion, and that Airbnb's former CFO, Laurence Tosi, was joining its board.

Big hotels are also jumping in with similar offerings- in April, Marriott started partnering with property management companies to offer home rentals.

And Airbnb, one of the highest-valued private startups in the US, has continued to push into corporate-focused rentals. On Monday, it said that it had bought Urbandoor, a listing site for furnished apartments geared towards professionals.

Lyric's Hampole said that he is trying to bring the "narrative-based" design he learned at Starwood to apartment-like spaces. But that brings a lot of challenges, as Lyric needs to provide flexible accommodations that appeal to both business travelers and tourists.

"This is a space for you to build your own narrative. A space you could have a meeting in, you could have a dinner party in, you could be staying there for a weekend with family or friends, or you could be staying there for business," he said.

The design guide shows concepts that Lyric wants to focus on when designing its rental units. For example, the company wants to be "bold," but not too bold. The Lyric version of bold does not include aggressive colors or clutter, according to the slides.

Take a look through the slides below to learn more about Lyric's design approach.

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