Founded in 2016 by Joe Wong, Srini Panguluri, and Kulveer Taggar, Zeus Living had gone through the renowned Y Combinator program and, by 2019, boasted a team of 240 employees. The company had grown accustomed to a staggering three to four-fold growth rate each year, with prominent investors such as Airbnb and Initialized Capital propelling its success, culminating in $55 million in total funding by December 2019.
The housing startup, specializing in providing furnished properties to business travelers and young professionals on a temporary basis, relied heavily on the travel industry and individuals working in traditional office spaces to generate revenue. However, the promising trajectory abruptly halted as the pandemic took hold, causing investors to retreat and stunting the company's growth. Taggar vividly recalled the moment of realization, and as cancellations surged, the stark reality dawned on him that their ambitious growth plans for the year and the grand vision they had meticulously crafted were unraveling before their eyes.
With determination fueling their resilience, Zeus Living had to embark on a path to recovery. Months of relentless efforts to fill properties and meet their financial obligations bore fruit as they discovered a new winning strategy. Shifting its focus from business professionals to traveling healthcare workers, construction workers, and displaced students, Zeus Living tapped into new avenues of demand.
At the outset of 2020, Zeus Living had approximately 2,000 properties available for rent. By the following year, that number had doubled, reflecting the company's resolute focus on returning to pre-COVID revenue levels. Additionally, the Silicon Valley exodus prompted a surge in demand in cities like Austin, Miami, and Nashville, paving the way for Zeus's expansion into these regions and accelerating their growth.
Kulveer Taggar, Joe Wong, and Srini Panguluri
Two years after earning his degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Oxford University, Taggar moved from Great Britain to the US to launch Auctomatic, a web-based tool for online auction sellers. At age 24, he sold that company for $5 million and then spent several years focused on angel investing before launching Zeus Living in 2015.
Taggar's foray into the startup world began with the creation of Tagstand, an NFC-triggered task launcher, but took a few more pivots before eventually evolving it into Agent, an app settings configurer. However, it was during a seemingly mundane experience that Taggar stumbled upon an opportunity to revolutionize the rental process. When his co-founder at the time, Joe Wong, had to relocate from San Francisco to Palo Alto, Taggar witnessed firsthand the frustrations and distractions associated with the arduous task of finding a new tenant and securing a medium-term rental. The challenges of exorbitant prices and unreliable Craigslist listings left Taggar perplexed, and thus, Zeus was born.