Arguably the most annoying aspect of finding a new place to live is getting approved by the building or management company. Figuring out a time to meet, getting all the documents that you can’t find, and the general nuisance involved in this often arcane and opaque process makes you dread the whole experience. Forget about the fact that you’ll also be needing to move your stuff on top of this. What if you could be pre-approved to rent your apartment before even looking at prospective properties? Thanks to HomeMe, this is a reality. This is the first mobile app that pre-approves you like with a mortgage, streamlining the whole process for you and landlords. Get approved, sign your lease, and take your keys…
LA TechWatch spoke with CEO Mark Douglas about the company’s growing popularity and their most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $3.2M seed round from Menlo Ventures, 2M Companies (Family office of Morton H. Meyerson), as well as other leading technology investors.
Tell us about your product or service.
HomeMe is the only mobile app that pre-approves users to rent an apartment. It’s a complete reversal of the daunting rental process, empowering users by eliminating applications and application fees. Equipped with a real-time database of available units, HomeMe is the easiest and most convenient way to find an apartment. Search listings and contact properties directly from the app.
What inspired you to start the company?
We knew the current process was broken. We set out create a better process for property management companies, so that it flowed nicely into a better experience for renters as well. Previous attempts by competitors ignored property management companies.
How is it different?
We flipped the model, streamling the process for both renters and property management companies. When renters get pre-approved with HomeMe they can rest assured that they’re qualified before walking in the door. Likewise, property management companies know that we’re sending quality propspective renters that fit their custom criteria.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Presently we’re targeting renters in Houston, Austin and Dallas. In 2017 we’ll be expanding nationwide to service the 10.5 millions renters who will be looking for an apartment in the next 12 months.
What’s your business model?
The app is free! HomeMe generates revenue from driving quality leads to multifamily properties.
Do you have plans to eventually be able to search from the website?
We’re a mobile-first organization. There are no plans to build out a complimentary web experience at this time.
What was the funding process like?
We raised our first $1.5M seed funding round in a month’s time.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The funding market has become quite a bit tighter as of late. Yet 9 months later we were able to raise our 2nd seed funding at $1.7M.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The idea was very well received, as was the team behind HomeMe .
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We’re preparing to launch a service geared to the rental industry that, again, has the potential to upend the traditional rental process, however, this time from the property manager/property owner side.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Incubators are a good option for young startups. The network and access right off the bat is very useful. It’s a good way to break into the startup model.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We launched in Houston and recently added Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. In the next year we plan on rolling out to other major markets in the US with a national rollout soon to follow.
What is your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
Laurel Hardware on Melrose. Discreet entrance. Nice vibe inside. Nice outdoor area in back. Good food and mixologists.