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You Can Now Rent Out Your Kitchen or Basement Bar by the Hour

NockNock, a sharing-economy startup where homeowners can rent out rooms they're not using, launches in Chicago today. The kitchen in Alice and Simon Elliott’s Irving Park house is nice—built new in 2021 with stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops—but while they’re at work, it sits unused. "It’s quite a nice space, but it’s just, like, not doing anything all week,” says Simon Elliott. That is, until today when the Elliotts’ kitchen debuts on a new, only-in-Chicago sharing site where homeowners can offer rooms in their homes for rent by the hour. They’re listing the kitchen and adjacent entertainment space for rent on NockNock at $250 an hour, and separately, the skylit workout space on the house’s third floor at $100 an hour. In both cases, there’s a four-hour minimum rental. The Elliotts envision kitchen renters using it for large group lunch meetings or video production and the gym renting to fitness trainers to work with clients in the neighborhood. “When we’re not here, we can make cash on the side,” Simon Elliott said.

 


NockNock’s founder, Charles Ferguson, is based in California but is launching the concept exclusively in Chicago to start with, he said, because “it’s a big, complicated city, with lots of different neighborhoods and types of housing”—the right setting to prove out the concept before setting up in other parts of the country. The startup has “three to five” employees in Chicago, Ferguson said, and $3 million in startup funds from early-stage, small venture-capital firms and individual investors. The idea for NockNock struck when Ferguson had a meeting in Berkeley, Calif., about half an hour from his house and hoped to go for a run on a favorite trail afterward. “I wanted a place to stash my clothing and take a shower,” says Ferguson, formerly a filmmaker who directed the Oscar-winning 2010 documentary “Inside Job,” about the global financial crisis in 2008.

It's already possible to rent entire houses or bedrooms overnight via Vrbo, Airbnb and other outlets, or to rent out your swimming pool on Simply, your piano practice room on PianoMe, your parking space on ParqEx, or your meetings and events venue on Peerspace. “I think there are a million possible uses,” Ferguson said. “Someone has a roof deck or an electric car charger, a laundry room, a nice backyard that they’re not using.” Asked about renting out a bedroom, a la the afternoon delight motels with hourly rates, Ferguson said that “is probably not something you’d put on NockNock.” He said there have not yet been any applicants to rent out individual bedrooms by the hour that he recalls.
 

In Chicago's Roseland neighborhood, Shasta and Michael Grossett are listing their basement on NockNock at $40 an hour and their backyard at $40 an hour. In the basement, the furnished bar and lounge area are stocked with checkers, dominoes, and other games. The fenced backyard has a fire pit, outdoor furniture, a lawn, and the couple’s vegetable garden. Shasta Grossett says she envisions renters using either or both spaces for birthday parties infused with nostalgia via the games that are on hand in the basement. NockNock, Grossett says, “is a little side hustle where we can make some passive income.”NockNock, a sharing-economy startup where homeowners can rent out rooms they're not using, launches in Chicago today. The kitchen in Alice and Simon Elliott’s Irving Park house is nice—built new in 2021 with stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops—but while they’re at work, it sits unused. "It’s quite a nice space, but it’s just, like, not doing anything all week,” says Simon Elliott. That is, until today when the Elliotts’ kitchen debuts on a new, only-in-Chicago sharing site where homeowners can offer rooms in their homes for rent by the hour. They’re listing the kitchen and adjacent entertainment space for rent on NockNock at $250 an hour, and separately, the skylit workout space on the house’s third floor at $100 an hour. In both cases, there’s a four-hour minimum rental. Property hosts' backgrounds are checked and renters must provide a state-issued ID for verification, a NockNock spokesperson said.

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