Time is short. And when you are dealing with finding a new apartment, it’s even shorter. It’s times like these that you can’t start visiting every Craigslist apartment that looks good online at the expense of showing up to find out you are not suitable for it for one reason or another. In order to avoid this problem, the new app HomeMe only displays apartments that you are pre-approved for. With an eye towards simplifying your apartment search, HomeMe is also respecting your time.
Today we sit down with Mark Douglas, President and CEO and Lindsey Holland, cofounder and VP of Client Services to discuss the next best thing in apartment hunting and where the company plans to go in the future.
Tell us about the product or service.
HomeMe is the only app that pre-approves renters for an apartment on demand.
How is it different?
HomeMe is a complete reversal of the daunting rental process. Every apartment you view on HomeMe, you are pre-approved to rent. The pre-approval process works by simply inputting your income and completing a background and credit check by answering a few simple questions. The app is equipped with a real-time database of available units and you can browse listings, book appointments and reserve a pre-approved apartment on your mobile phone. There are no application fees and HomeMe is completely free to the consumer.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
HomeMe is going after the apartment rental market. HomeMe launched in Beta in Houston, Texas as it’s the largest multifamily housing market in the U.S. About 40 percent of the apartments in the market are under contract with HomeMe.
What is the business model?
HomeMe is free to consumers and charges property management companies a fee when they rent. HomeMe takes the property manager approval criteria (credit, criminal, rental history and income) and matches them with renters who meet it.
What percentage of rentals do not go through due to improper qualifications?
There are a lot of factors that go into approving apartment rentals such as location, demographics, age of property, average rent at the property and others. There’s no doubt that properties get unqualified traffic every day and it’s just as frustrating for the renter as it is for the landlord. With HomeMe, every apartment the renter sees in the app, they know they’re approved for before they spend time visiting the property.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?
HomeMe is from serial entrepreneur and experienced Silicon Valley Executive, Mark Douglas. He is also CEO of SteelHouse, a $100 million per year Ad-Tech Company. Prior to, Mark was CTO of eHarmony, the Rubicon Project and part of the founding team of the Oracle Applications Division. He co-founded HomeMe with Lindsey Holland, an eleven-year veteran in the property management industry where she built and managed multiple large scale apartment communities.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
The LA Tech Community is the best in the world. Everyone is ready to help each other and rooting for each other’s success. That’s been a bit lost in Silicon Valley. And the quality of life in LA really complements all the hard work it takes to build a new company.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We looking forward to introducing HomeMe nationally and getting more people pre-approved for their next apartment!
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
Ashton Kutcher. He’s obviously very smart and appears to have figured out how to make his celebrity materially contribute to the companies he’s invested in.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Building companies where you work hard during the day and enjoy places that are uniquely LA like the Hollywood Bowl at night. It is the ultimate work hard, play hard community.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
Investors will follow talent. Talent will follow opportunity. We need to make more people aware of all the interesting entrepreneurial companies that are in LA.
Where is the best place in LA to watch the sunset?
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overview which is right by our office in Culver City. There’s virtually no shade on the way up, so the best time to go is in the evening right before sunset. It has great views and serves as the perfect workout after the office.