There are so many factors that go into finding the right apartment. "Is this a good deal? Is the neighborhood safe? Is the landlord reliable?" ANew York Citybased startup decided to address these pain-points in the apartment rental space and is now moving to Indian markets beginning with Mumbai.The summer of 2011 saw the launch of Rentenna: a web-based rental search engine that helps apartment-seekers quickly find the rental buildings and communities that best meet the renter’s individual preferences and requirements. For apartment-seekers, Rentenna offers the Rentenna Score – a mathematically generated rating from 0-100 that takes into account a building or community’s cost, amenities and services, attractiveness of locality, resident reviews, and other factors. For building owners, managers, and rental brokers, Rentenna aims to offer an unprecedented suite of tools and services that allow them to efficiently find those renters who would be a great match for their properties. Given the universal need for housing, and given their differentiated offering, they attract a wide demographic of users. However, their core target audience primarily consists of consumers in the 18-35 years age bracket, most of who are either attending university or have already completed their university studies.
“In the consumer web these days, there is an overload of available data. Rentenna’s key differentiator is our ability to collect, parse, and normalize varied types of data and synthesize those attributes into a simple, easily understood Rentenna Score that an apartment-seeker can use to make a smarter rental decision,” says Co-founder, Sandeep Kella.
“We haven’t encountered any other players in the Real Estate vertical with similar technology or differentiators. However, there are several companies successfully applying these data analysis concepts in other verticals. Examples include airline price predictor Farecast (acquired by Miscrosoft in 2008 to power Bing Travel), event ticket aggregator SeatGeek, and social media analysis tool Klout,” he adds.
Rentenna has been self-funded by the company founders Sandeep Kella, A. Kayvon Bina, Alicia Schwartz and Kevin Dolan. They came up with the idea out of practical considerations. Like most people inNew York, they grew frustrated with the process of renting an apartment and the lack of tools out there to help them in their research. They raised concerns on how one has ratings/reviews/recommendations for just about every product on the market these days, but nothing exists like that for the biggest annual expenditure for most people. This propelled them to venture into this entrepreneurial space of rentals and materialize the business idea of having a web-based platform for both apartment seekers and renters.
“At Rentenna, our mission is to make apartment hunting as easy as possible. We research all the important things about a building that you'd normally have to search for on your own, across any number of websites. We then weigh all these pieces of data against each other and condense the whole mess into a single number, the Rentenna Score. Using our score, you can quickly hone in on the best rentals in the city that match your search criteria,” Sandeep tells Yourstory.
The biggest initial challenge Rentenna faced is property managers worrying about people leaving negative ratings and reviews of their building. “However, we’ve been able to overcome this because property managers have seen the quality of the referrals we are sending their way. They are also realizing that transparency is the direction the industry is going!” adds Sandeep.
Marketing of rental properties online inIndiais still in its early stages when compared to the more mature rental market in theUS. It would be extremely interesting to see how Rentenna’s online penetration in the domestic market would be consumed by Mumbaikars habituated to tackling apartment concerns the traditional way.