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Patrick Yoon

Hilarious ROOMIE NIGHTMARES brought to you by start-up American Roomies!

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EVERYONE has had a bad roommate experience in their life. Here are some highlights of those experiences. #roomienightmares

"My roommate ordered food and didn't have cash, guess who's paying..."

"Came home to my roommate's mom sleeping in my bed..."

"Always come home to Gossip Girl on the tv..." 

"woke up to my drunk roommate crawling into my bed..."

My roommate told me that he loved me...when i told him i didnt love him, he asked "could you learn to love me?"

"I can't walk within 15 feet of our bathroom..."

"my dog loves my roommate more than me..."

"the nutella is gone again...and i f##king love nutella"

We will be updating more each week on BuiltinChicago!

WHO AND WHAT IS AMERICAN ROOMIES?

American Roomies is a Chicago based start-up that is trying to revolutionize roommate searching by merging the concept of an online dating site and roommate finding site - but in a platonic way. 

Each year, millions of internationals arrive in the U.S. for school, work, visit, etc.  We are focused on making their experience in the states as amazing and safe as possible through the help of an American Roomie!

The basic model is that we have LISTERS and RENTERS.  Listers are going to be graduates or current students from Top 25 universities (verification through their university associated email) that need to sublet or find a new roommate for their extra room in their current apartment.  Listers will receive a monetary incentive to list with American Roomies through our premium rental price mark-up system.  

Renters will be internationals coming to the U.S. for any amount of time, looking to find a roommate to live with.  When internationals arrive, they have trouble finding safe and reliable roommates, and usually do not have the ability to sign their own leases. This is where American Roomies comes in.  We help match these internationals with safe and reliable Roomies from the top 25 universities living in their desired area.  

EXAMPLE: I attended the University of Chicago and live in a two bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago.  My roommate is moving out in June so I list his bedroom on American Roomies for which he paid $1000 each month.  American Roomies takes that room price and marks it up 25% to $1,250 for each month.  American Roomies and the Lister split that $250 mark up each month that is transacted through the site.  I then fill out my profile that has a lot of optional information about my school attended, degree, previous work experiences, interests, etc. I could also become American Roomies verified by paying a small one-time fee to get a background check by the company.  If an international Renter shows interest in my room, he can message me with a great transparent messaging system and then he can request to be my "Roomie".  Once I accept within 48 hours, there is a secure payment system that allows him to pay 1st and last months rent up front (at the $1,250 per month price).  American Roomies receives that payment from the Renter and distributes to myself, the initial $1,000 for the rent on the extra room for the 1st month, and $125 as a monetary incentive.  American Roomies keeps the other $125 as a transaction fee.  

I then have amazing experiences with this international Renter each month and we each share our own unique cultures with each other.  I also introduce him to my network and I share my knowledge of my university and previous work experiences.  This is a win-win situation for both parties.  I get to live with an extremely great person from a different country and we exchange knowledge and culture.  I also end up making an extra $125 each month he stays with me which could help take care of my own living expenses.

AMERICAN ROOMIES IS A COMPLETELY FREE SERVICE!

Please let us know what you think about the start-up and please contact me for any additional information! I am sorry about the long post!

Thank you everyone! CHOOSE SMART, ROOM SMART!

 

 

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Comments

Patrick Yoon

Glenn, this is great feedback! We are constantly trying to figure out better ways to tweak our business model and we have been playing around with different percentage markups and even one time fees. We dont like the subscription based model and after taking your view into account, we might look into different pricing models for domestics vs internationals. Currently, we are focusing on the international market and we believe that the security, safety, and network we offer will make the premium justifiable. We also thought of the 1st and last month up front in order to protect the lister. If there are any issues or the Renter decides to skip town after agreeing on the last month, we have some collateral for the Lister. Thank you so much for the input and please give us more comments and advice!

Patrick Yoon

Thank you for the feedback Rachel! We are still working on the details of our model. So this is very helpful. We view the premium pricing model as a way to incentivize listers to not only share their space with internationals but also their experience and network. From the renters' end, we view it as a self selecting tool in terms of security and willingness to experience cultural immersion. Would love to hear any other thoughts/feedback.

Peter Jabbour

Congrats to you too, Patrick. Job well done at Boothlaunch!

Rachel Hyman

Hi Patrick,

This is a really cool idea. One potential problem I see on the renter end is that the 25% markup is non-trivial. If the baseline for rent in your neighborhood is $1000, then you're asking the renter to pay a significant amount above market price...every month. Maybe if there were a way to incentivize listers to use the service in a way that didn't come at such a charge to the renter, like with more of a one-time commission that you provide them with? In fact, it's surprising that the lister gets a regular kickback, since you're providing them with the service of roommate matching. One-time commissions seem like more of a traditional model, but I would worry that a greatly marked-up monthly cost is going to scare renters away (unless we assume that they won't know better what reasonable rent is, or don't care). It just seems like it would make more sense to pay once for what you're providing (better roommate matching) than tacking that cost onto the monthly rent.

Glenn Shanks Jr.

I was thinking the same things. The 1250 mark up, plus paying 1st and last months rent up front ($2500) before you move in is a little outrageous. I understand paying 1st month upfront but last month too? Just some thoughts because I like the idea, I just wouldn't have the money to use this service if I was a renter. Maybe internationals are different since they are coming to America for education...

Patrick Yoon

Thank you for the feedback Rachel! We are still working on the details of our model. So this is very helpful. We view the premium pricing model as a way to incentivize listers to not only share their space with internationals but also their experience and network. From the renters' end, we view it as a self selecting tool in terms of security and willingness to experience cultural immersion. Would love to hear any other thoughts/feedback.

Patrick Yoon

Tom, thank you so much for your great insight and advice!

We are heading in that direction because we realized that there has been no evolution in roommate matching and it is such an intimate situation. I wanted to highlight with those one-liners, that everyone has had these crazy situations and that we want to avoid this through total transparency and safety of our listers. We will be implementing a "Roomie Match Score" or some type of scale that allows you to see who your initial best matches are through the optional questions in both parties' profiles.

It is really funny that you said the match.com or OKCupid.com for roommates because that is exactly how I explain it to people I meet! You are the man!!!! Thank you again.

Tom Ordonez

A problem that I see is culture.

The office space is a similar example. At my office in Miami, somebody would always put a coke in the freezer. I assume to make it cold faster. Sometimes he would forget the coke was there and it will exploded overnight.

Who did it? Nobody wanted to say. I thought I was the only office with these kind of funky situations. But I hear all kind of crazy stories all over the place, big and small companies. Specially in Chicago.

Your idea is great but to pair up the right matches you would have to do some type of survey like match.com.

Maybe you can tag your startup as OKCupid for Roommates.

Patrick Yoon

Tom, thank you so much for your great insight and advice! We are heading in that direction because we realized that there has been no evolution in roommate matching and it is such an intimate situation. I wanted to highlight with those one-liners, that everyone has had these crazy situations and that we want to avoid this through total transparency and safety of our listers. We will be implementing a "Roomie Match Score" or some type of scale that allows you to see who your initial best matches are through the optional questions in both parties' profiles. It is really funny that you said the match.com or OKCupid.com for roommates because that is exactly how I explain it to people I meet! You are the man!!!! Thank you again.

Patrick Yoon

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