Paul Burke, a 2014 Western graduate, recently launched a new roommate-finder application. After the debut of the beta version, it took less than three weeks for the application to reach 1,000 downloads.
On May 2, 2016, RentHoop went live nationally for iOS and Android phones, giving college students and recent graduates a safer and easier alternative to finding roommates.
Burke, who received a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in economics, said the university impacted his career as an entrepreneur.
“I got a really good education at Western, and having really good marketing professors kind of helped me get to a place to where I feel like I could run my own business,” Burke said.
He said he cites Western’s marketing professors, specifically Ed Love, Ann Stone and Dan Purdy, as teachers who had the biggest impact on his education.
Love, who taught the marketing innovation class that Burke took over summer quarter, said he saw the entrepreneurial drive Burke had.
Due to smaller class sizes that can occur during summer quarter, Love said he was able to work with Burke individually and give him advice about the entrepreneurial process.
“Not only did he have a passion for entrepreneurship, he had a real interest in solving a problem that was tied in with the whole process of being a renter,” Love said.
Love was not surprised to find Burke had found an entrepreneurial solution to a problem that he grappled with while attending Western, he said.
It was after graduating that Burke saved his money and set a goal to move out of his mom’s house. He then faced difficulties in safely and easily finding a roommate.
After searching the usual sites like Craigslist, for roommates, Burke said he found them to be outdated and risky. He wanted to develop an app that had similar characteristics to Tinder, Uber and Airbnb. Burke’s vision was an app that had yet to be made: one that could connect users finding roommates, one that people felt safe using, and one with a distinct brand.
While there are already applications specifically college students for college students to find a roommate, and applications for those not in college to find a roommate, RentHoop is an app that seamlessly caters to both.
“Not only did he have a passion for entrepreneurship, he had a real interest in solving a problem that was tied in with the whole process of being a renter.”
After downloading the application, users can log in using their Facebook account, giving them an opportunity to make mutual connections. They then can set up a profile and start searching for possible roommates, based on location, preferences and similar interests. If a user sees someone that could be a possible roommate, they can swipe right on that person.
The feature, as inspired by Tinder, provides a safer interface by allowing prospective roommates to send and receive messages, but only if both users anonymously swipe right.
“You’re not going to be spammed or solicited with people who you don’t want to connect with,” Burke said.
Students at Arizona State University are hearing about the app through fliers, posts on social media, and even hearing about it on campus tours.
This is because of Paul Burke’s younger brother Ely Burke, whose involvement with RentHoop includes marketing and working with schools interested in utilizing the app. “It’s going to blow up. It’s crazy how much traction we’ve gotten after only two months. I think schools are going to want to partner with us and we’ll be a brand name that millennials know and love,” Ely said in an email.
Ely said starting the grassroots efforts at the school he attends, ASU, has been successful thus far, and is promising for the future of RentHoop.
As for the app’s future, Paul said he hopes for students on every college campus to be using RentHoop in a year. Aside from the growth of the app, he says it’s a lot of fun hearing success stories.
“The potential of those connections are life-changing and to be part of that is very cool for our team,” Burke said in an email.