With a variety of resources including workshops, seminars and invaluable access to business connections, NYU’s Launchpad program gives a select number of student entrepreneurs the opportunity to advance their budding startups. CrashDwell, an online forum for NYC students looking for short-term housing, earned its co-founders Ran Zheng and Patrick Yan one of these coveted spots. Read on to learn the details of their innovative venture.
Tell us about the decision to apply for NYU LaunchPad.
Ran and I were working on CrashDwell as a side project when we heard about the LaunchPad. We just applied for fun and were surprised when we were actually selected as one of the nine teams out of 100 applicants. Now we’re working full-time on our startup!
Tell us about the product that you are launching?
CrashDwell is an online platform for students to find and offer short-term housing options like sublets. We launched our beta site in April and many students have started subletting on our site without any marketing efforts.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are attacking the student sublet market in NYC first. Students are transient residents and need to sublet more frequently than other residents. Right now, craigslist is the most popular solution but it’s polluted with lots of garbage listings and dangerous scams. Short-term housing in NYC is a multi-hundred million dollar market. Our total addressable market is about $20M in NYC alone.
What is your take on the current scene in New York today?
It’s great that the New York startup scene is growing so rapidly. NYU is also really taking the initiative to encourage student entrepreneurship with various programs, including the LaunchPad. We are excited to see how NYC startups will begin to take the lead and disrupt more and more industries.
Where does your company fit in the ecosystem?
Due to the competitive and expensive real estate market in NYC, an increasing number of real estate startups have come and gone. CrashDwell addresses the market in two novel ways never attempted before. First, we target students who are neglected by current offerings, and second, we are dealing exclusively with sublets, which are regarded as less lucrative compared to full-term lease rentals.