Rajasthan-based Rentroomi is a platform that helps students, job-seekers, and first-time job holders find a roommate to share a flat with.
For 23-year-old Sushma, getting her first job in Bengaluru was a big deal. But it also meant finding a cheap accommodation. The idea of staying as a paying guest wasn’t appealing, as Sushma’s job didn’t have fixed timings, and she didn’t like the restrictions that came with staying in a PG.
It is to help people like Sushma that Nitin Sharma, Bhagat Singh Shekhawat, Jitendra Sharma and Sucharita Charaya joined hands to start Rentroomi, at Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. It is a customised platform that helps users give or take a room on rent in an occupied flat.
The platform not only allows users to select the room based on price or locality, but also gives information about other amenities provided with the flat or room. With the help of Rentroomi, users can also get acquainted with fellow roommates, and then choose the room after evaluating its offering.
Focus on single working-class professionals
“We have created a direct channel between tenants, helping them communicate directly, and eliminating middlemen from the process,” says Nitin.
He adds that the website's target audience constitutes more than 40-50 percent of the population: the heavily tech-dependent youth, who believe in optimal usage of resources, students, and job seekers who worry about finding the right roommate. Says Nitin,
“Most of the traction is seen in the top metros of the country – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Noida, Hyderabad and Gurgaon. We have reached over 8,000 listings till date.”
Reviving an old idea
The idea of cohabitation isn't a new one. Nitin, in fact, got the idea from his father, who had moved to Rajasthan in the eighties on a meagre salary of Rs 740, with a family in tow. He then decided to share a room with another family, thereby halving the cost and expenses.
Nitin saw the benefit in incorporating the same concept into his business model, seeing how people today make a lot of money but are equally saddled by high cost of living. At the same time, as an engineering student residing in a college hostel, he recognised the importance of finding the right roommate. He elaborates,
“From the one that bullies, to the one who leaves his dirty socks under your bed, from a kleptomaniac to a self-proclaimed 'bhakt', in college and then work life, I have encountered numerous types of roommates. Though some became friends for life, others were a disastrous experience, which left me disgruntled. After swallowing this bitter pill and learning from my ordeal, I decided to build a platform catering to those who wanted to share a flat or a room, and looking for the right ‘roomie’.”
Nitin roped in his friends, and started Rentroomi. This also meant roping in the right flat-owners and vendors. While initially it meant expending a lot of energy in convincing, it became an easier task when the owners realised that they stood to benefit as well.
Rentroomi helps in finding a roommate, and it provides homeowners and single renters a customised platform to not only select the right room for them on the basis of price and locality, but also gives one an insight about their future roommates, and the amenities provided in the room.
The user can post their ad, and give answers in detail regarding the room, amenities, and price. The Rentroomi model aids in settling at a new location, with the right room partner, wherein one can share the living costs and utility bills.
“By creating an all-in-one platform, we aim to offer a more holistic approach than just helping finding a roommate through social media groups. The model is fairly simple, where one can create an account and search for room partners, or create a listing and wait for tenants to connect with you,” says Nitin.
Rentroomi was selected as one of the top 50 best startups for PitchCity 2015, organised by Headstart Network Foundation.
The space and differentiators
Currently, the idea of sharing economy in the rental space is fast growing; there is Homigo and the Tiger Global-backed Nestaway. There also is Zenify, which is a home aggregation and rental management platform.
Rentroomi is different from other classified websites, because it offers the user the freedom to choose the right kind of roommate, based on preferences, demographic and geographic analysis.
Metros are attracting single, working, and educational class youth, in search of better life prospects, and this has created a huge demand for rentals. “Though existing players are offering rental properties, they lack the personal touch,” Nitin adds.
At the moment, the platform aims to generate revenue through added services like Google ad-sense. Nitin adds that the core website will always remain free for creating listing or looking for occupancy in an already occupied apartment.
“We intend to expand to more cities and add more features as per the needs and demands of our consumers,” adds Nitin.