OFO EZEUGWU, 23, a Temple grad from North Philadelphia, is co-founder and CEO of Whose Your Landlord. The Web app enables renters to find their next home and review landlords, housing complexes and college residence halls before signing a lease.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea?
A: I studied entrepreneurship and thought about how we could help students make informed decisions about where to live and have real-time information about landlords before signing a lease. That was in February 2012. My two co-founders and I launched a [trial] version in October 2012.
Q: The startup money?
A: It was bootstrapped with help from my parents. We won a pitch competition at Temple last year and got $20,500. An accelerator in New York City gave us $10,000 last summer and DreamIt Ventures' accelerator here gave us $25,000.
Q: What's the biz do?
A: Renters on the site share insights about landlords and answer questions about their housing experiences. We just integrated a search tool that allows you to parse the data to find your next home. This information allows for transparency into housing businesses and helps improve tenant-landlord relations.
Q: The biz model?
A: When a renter inputs criteria wanted in a home, we send that to landlords who have housing that matches their preferences - say, a particular neighborhood. After renters select apartments they're interested in, we send out feelers to landlords and show them the rental-application form. We charge a fee - 2.5 percent of the first month's rent - to connect the landlord with the renter.
Q: The value prop?
A: For renters, we help them avoid wasting time looking for places they're not interested in. For landlords, we're introducing them to potential tenants so they're not showing properties to people who can't afford them or aren't the right fit.
Q: Your customers?
A: We recently passed 10,000 renters - mostly college students and millennials - on our website, but landlords and property managers are our clients because they pay us. We have about 650 landlords and property managers on the site.
A: We have the tenant-review aspect and can plug and play with other websites. It's similar to the way Yelp works with GrubHub. GrubHub allows you to see what dining options are available, but you can also connect to Yelp's reviews.
Q: Biggest challenge?
A: We want people to review landlords on our site. In Philly, the typical renter is on our site for 4 1/2 minutes.
Q: How big a biz?
A: We are a team of four. The goal is to break even by spring 2016. The revenue target for the end of this year is $250,000.