Not everyone who needs temporary housing is on vacation, and this Vegas startup is addressing that need

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Mon, Jan 23, 2023 (2 a.m.)

Yeves Perez and Daj’Anique Staples are a couple, but they’re also business partners and the brains behind a tech startup called Workbnb.

The couple, who have matching Workbnb logo tattoos, recently moved from Reno to the Summerlin area and plan to bring their company’s headquarters with them.

Workbnb, launched last year, is similar to the Airbnb guest rental concept, where vacationers can reserve short-term residential rentals through a smartphone app.

The difference with Workbnb is that it’s tailored to employers who oversee workers on nonpermanent, long-term jobs, such as large construction projects.

With Workbnb, employers can reserve housing for their workers for a month or longer.

Perez, who previously worked as a freelance marketing consultant in San Diego, noticed there was an unfilled niche for short-term rentals when his mother’s small rental business in Reno began to take off several years ago.

“My mom just had a few of these rentals, but some people with a company that was moving from the Bay Area to Reno liked her so much, they requested that more employees work with her,” Perez said. “That was in 2019, which was a big time for California companies coming to Reno.”

Soon, Perez’s mother signed a contract for the use of nearly two dozen apartments for employees of the company. She asked her son to help set up the apartments.

“She called me and said she’d already bought me a plane ticket and that she wanted me to come out and help her,” Perez said. “I figured I better do it if I ever wanted to come to Thanksgiving dinner again.”

Early last year, Perez registered Workbnb with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. He also took the concept through the strenuous Techstars incubator program in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Workbnb has five employees now—Staples serves as president—but the company could soon have as many as 25 workers, Perez said.

After growing up in Las Vegas and graduating from Centennial High School, Staples moved to Reno to attend college.

She eventually crossed paths with Perez, who convinced her to start her own short-term rental business.

“Ever since I learned about the business, I knew this was a great come-up,” Staples said. “If I knew about this at 16, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college.”

Earlier this month, Perez hosted a launch party at UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation business accelerator center in Las Vegas.

When she heard about the Workbnb story, Jamie Schwartz, director of industry and business engagement with UNLV’s Office of Economic Development, knew she wanted to learn more about what she thought was an interesting company.

“I didn’t know that UNLV had a hospitality and tech incubator,” Perez said. “We met with Jamie and she put us on a fast track to get very involved.”

One of the first big breaks for the company came when it helped secure a two-plus-year condo deal for a construction company manager working on a freeway expansion project in Reno.

With an array of big construction projects underway or planned in the Las Vegas area in the coming years, Perez said he has no doubt there

will be a continued need for temporary housing.

In addition to Las Vegas and Reno, Perez said he wants to grow the business in markets like Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Orlando, Florida.

Workbnb also recently launched a commercial that features Staples and can be seen on some streaming services.

As African Americans, Perez and Staples said they’re proud of the concept they’re building, partly because Black businesspeople have traditionally been massively underrepresented in the tech sector.

“We’re building the Workbnb empire,” Staples said. “I think what we’re doing is important because Blacks, and especially Black women, aren’t represented a lot in tech.”

Perez said the couple hope the company gains more traction in Las Vegas.

“In Reno, we were overlooked,” Perez said. “We couldn’t get contacts with the city and with the university there. There’s a bigger tech scene here in Las Vegas, and there’s more diversity here. There’s opportunity for us and we want as much as possible; we’re hungry.”

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This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

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