Most people use their networking platforms for business or social purposes and then scramble when they need to find roommates. Feeling hesitant to use your main social media outlets for finding roommates, you have nowhere to turn. Introducing The Room Ring, the solution that lets you search for roommates just like you search for everything else…with filter. The days of searching on Craigslist or shamelessly posting on Facebook are over. With an app on the horizon The Room Ring is the roommate finder of the future.
Today we sit down with CEO Lia Wayman about the recently launched company and how it plans to compete in the roommate finding space.
Tell us about the product or service.
The Room Ring’s free service is unlike any other roommate matching website or app in allowing users to see which mutual Facebook friends they share with other users, much like LinkedIn’s 1st degree connections. As opposed to a glorified Craigslist, The Room Ring is a socially integrated service that finds users compatible roommates whether they are listing a vacant room for rent, looking for a room or sublet, or looking for a roommate with whom to start an apartment search. By having users authenticate through Facebook, The Room Ring enables roommate and apartment seekers to vet potential roommates through their mutual friends. The built-in messenger allows users to connect and communicate safely and efficiently. The process is fast, transparent and fun to use.
How is it different?
We are focused on people first, understanding that the decision about who to live with is even more important than where to live. The prospect of moving in with somebody you don’t have a close, personal friendship with can be nerve-wracking, and we are focused on alleviating that anxiety. To that end, our platform allows users to find roommates and rooms with whom they have a connection, by way of a mutual Facebook friend. It provides a safe and transparent way to meet others looking for roommates, or to find rooms available for rent. As we grow we plan to release new features that will allow users to more fully vet and become comfortable with potential roommates. In addition, The Room Ring offers users exclusive deals on products and services designed to assist in the entire moving process, from interior design to movers and storage.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Our market is 18-35 year olds who either currently live or plan to live with roommates in urban areas within the U.S. There are more than 15 million roommates in this market.
What is the business model?
We are trying to deliver value to our customers in a variety ways, while always maintaining that our core product of listing rooms and searching for rooms and roommates remains free to the user. Currently we have partnered with a number of our favorite companies to assist roommates in the moving process from end to end. As we expand we plan to release a number of additional features designed to take the headache out of moving and finding places to live and people to live with.
What inspired the business?
Personal experience! After moving from NYC to Boston, co-founder Lia Wayman ran head on into the problem of finding roommates and filling her room. It dawned on her that quite a few of her friends had been through the painful process of searching Craigslist to find a place to live or people to live with and after some initial research, Josie and Lia found that they were not alone in thinking this was a great solution to a growing problem. Our intention is to tap into this need and make it a more enjoyable and stress free process.
A number of companies (Symbi, Diggz, et al) have or are trying to tackle this same space. What makes your service offering the one that will win?
We are completely focused on trying to bring the familiarity and comfort of a personal introduction online. Making a decision to live with someone is a big deal, and we believe our service provides the best way for roommate seekers to meaningfully meet and vet one another in a safe and efficient way. We are also proud to have built a full-scale platform, available both on web and mobile, so we are accessible to users at all times.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We plan to continue to expand our product features, while also completing our android app. Additionally, we will be expanding to other major urban markets besides New York and San Francisco.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Everything takes a lot longer than you anticipate! Setting realistic goals and being able to adapt to delays in development is all part of the ride.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Besides being a powerhouse executive and CEO of one of the world’s most prominent and powerful brands, PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi consistently maintains a strategic outlook for her company and brand. She vows to run the company by doing what is best for the people as well as the planet and has stayed true to her sustainable and holistic outlook. Beyond this, Nooyi is highly respected as being a longtime PepsiCo employee and working in a number of other roles prior to becoming CEO in 2006. We particularly admire her efforts in innovation, finance, strategy, procurement, IR and information technology and feel that this deep history gives her a unique and special outlook from the helm of the company. We would be excited to meet Nooyi and better understand how she looks at a company’s strategy from both a thirty thousand foot view as well as one on the ground. She brings an immense amount of excellence and experience to her position and we feel we could obviously learn quite a bit from her!
Why did you launch in New York?
We decided to launch in New York because it is the second most expensive rental market in the U.S. (right behind San Francisco, where we also launched). With skyrocketing rental prices, the majority of millennials can’t afford to live in one-bedroom apartments and are forced to live with roommates. New York is the densest city in the U.S. per square mile and there is a huge sublet population during the summer months with intern programs making New York City the perfect place to launch.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
We recently discovered the fantastic views and pool at the Jimmy at the James Hotel.