Moving five times in five years isn’t easy, especially if you’re a grad student trying to juggle a full course load simultaneously. In between business courses, time has to be found to get from apartment complex to apartment complex to personally check out the quality and condition — or lack of them. Friends on social media can help out, but their tastes might be different than yours and what is utopia for them might be a dump-from-Hell for you.
So what’s the solution? Necessity is the mother of invention so if you’re a twenty-something with technology hardwired into your DNA and you have an innate business sense, you sit down and develop your own solution.
That’s precisely what Dan Laufer did when he found himself repeatedly moving. Along with a friend from Stanford, Byron Singh, Laufer merged his tech and business savvy and produced RentLingo.
Googling “apartment reviews” — or some variation — turns up well over 100,000 results. According to some analysts, ninety-nine percent of those reviews cannot be trusted. They may be written by an apartment complex’s competition hoping to divert business, maybe possibly written by a property manager hoping to steer some business their way or maybe even be written by a disgruntled renter with an axe to grind. RentLingo avoids this problem by building on a business model established years ago by Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports (CR) was formed in 1936 as an independent magazine. Focusing on the consumer, Consumer Reports has fought for truth and transparency where information is unclear. As an independent research company, CR has only relied on independent research in recommending the best and safest purchases for its readers. Not constrained by advertising or other commercial interests, CR has led to the use of numerous improvements in Americans’ lives.
RentLingo’s goal is to do the same for people interested in finding their perfect apartment. By hiring former property manages to visit and examine apartments, RentLingo ensures that renters don’t have the hassle of visiting every apartment themselves. “It is better to have the tenants visit the few that are a better fit than to visit all potential places,” Laufer said. Third-party verification adds value to the review on RentLingo and Laufer wants people to see RentLingo as a reliable, trustworthy source of unbiased information with the result being the rental search is safer and more credible through the power of social media.
By utilizing social media, the company makes an app available which helps renters link to possible roommates and apartments. With the power of social media behind it, the app gives critiques from current occupiers and past tenants. Friends can also chime in on social media with their ideas about the apartment. While many rental websites already provide reviews, they can be deceiving or ambiguous. RentLingo solves this problem by providing high-quality images and videos of the units. Potential renters can share the images with confidants who have resided in the neighborhood and get more feedback.
The RentLingo platform is convenient to use. Online research can now happen simply by searching by zip code or city and perusing the map decorated with tags that show all of that district’s apartments. RentLingo collects apartment listings nationally which can be narrowed by the user to show only available apartments within their budget as well desired size. Every renter has the same basic question; how many bathrooms and bedrooms. Some renters may also want to know if the complex is Fido-friendly. RentLingo conveniently answers.
Graduating from Stanford, Laufer and Singh, came up with the idea for RentLingo when they were assigned a class project. Their project was selected as the best of the “Alpha Pitches” by fellow students who were also budding entrepreneurs. 365 Connect, a technology site, praised RentLingo’s cleverness for combining social media with apartment hunting. RentLingo has been awarded numerous entrepreneurial prizes and will be adding regions to their database as they continue to grow.
That problem for the twenty-something may now just be a thing of the past.
By Jerry Nelson