What if you got home one day to find that your roommate had run off with everything you owned? That’s exactly what happened to Ajay Yadav and you know what they say: Get a rotten apple, and develop an app to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else, ever, again.
Roomi was born – and just came out of beta with a nice nest egg: $2 million in seed funding.
Roomi is a free mobile app that simplifies roommate and housing searches by making it easy for people to post and search rooms, form meaningful connections, and share a happy home as members of our co-living community.
Focusing on extensive research, Roomi founder and CEO Yadav developed the mobile marketplace to help solve the New York housing nightmare: steadily rising rent, stagnant wages and no simple way to find affordable housing – or sort out a roomie who wasn’t a potential psychopath. The app uses a simple user-to-user approach to connect two groups of people: those with empty rooms to fill and those searching for a new home — both trying to cut costs in a city where 44 percent of residents spend over 35 percent of their income on rent, and to be able to share that living space with people who inspire you, encourage you, and excite you about your every day.
“We want to change the way people think about cohabitation by empowering them with a way to live better — together,” said Yadav, who tells us more about his shared living solution – and the funding.
Tell us about the service.
Roomi simplifies roommate and housing search in New York by offering a safe, efficient alternative to the random roommate lottery. No more sifting through listings: our free mobile app provides streamlined specs and photos to make the roommate search fun and painless. It takes the guesswork and tediousness out of a process that most people dread even thinking about.
How is it different?
Unlike other roommate finding apps, Roomi has created a marketplace that utilizes an extensive social graph, allowing users to create a profile and search for potential roommates and rooms in a few quick steps. For security, every listing and user is vetted and verified before going. The app’s built-in chat allows users to connect to a potential new roommate safely, and encourages open communication about issues important for successful roommate relationships, like shared values, common interests and compatible lifestyles.
You recently raised $2M in seed funding. Who are your investors and what factors contributed to their writing the check?
DCM Ventures is leading our seed funding round. They were excited to invest in a “mobile-first” marketplace that had proven itself with promising traction at such an early stage.
What inspired you to start the company?
I developed Roomi after coming home to a ransacked apartment: my roommate had cleaned me out. In an instant, I lost my home, a hefty security deposit, as well as a lifetime of furniture and other belongings. I did not want this to happen to other people. This experience made me realize there is an obvious need for a tool that not only helps people find housing, but also compatible roommates. Research shows that rising rents has not been met with higher salaries, which means more and more people are in the market for a roommate. Roomi’s mission is to alleviate the stress of finding new housing and living with a stranger, by creating a solution that offers transparency from the beginning, allowing for enriching relationships to grow naturally.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Roomi is aiming to completely disrupt and reinvent the housing and roommate search market. We know that specifically students and young professionals aged 18-34 are suffering in the situation of rising rent and stagnant wages. Roomi is hoping to solve the New York housing nightmare, where 44 percent of residents spend over 35 percent of their income on rent.
What is the business model?
We’re in a very early stage of our company and are still fine tuning the specifics of our business model.
What are the most popular neighborhoods that you’ve noticed so far?
LES, Williamsburg, and Murray Hill have proven to be really popular for listings on Roomi, but Harlem is showing some great traction!
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We’re working hard to make sure Roomi is available for Android in the next six months, and we’re also developing some really great new features that are sure to make the app experience even better.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
Union Square Ventures, because they have a really strong presence and traction in New York, where our current target audience lives.
Why did you launch in New York?
While housing and roommate issues are obviously apparent everywhere, New York is the poster child for everything that is intimidating and scary about moving. It just made sense to tackle the problem right here at home first.
Which is your favorite NYC rooftop bar?
Gallow Green is a really great spot for hot summer nights.