Meet the app that's making roommate and apartment hunting safer

by Liz Warren
November 21, 2017
Roomi app
Image via Roomi

When Roomi’s founder and CEO Ajay Yadav moved to the U.S. from New Dehli in 2006, he was met with some challenges. Finding an apartment with a roommate he trusted was next to impossible.

“My experience with the roommate and apartment search was pretty much as bad as it could get,” said Yadav. “I spent hours at a time sorting through unverified listings and emailing potential roommates that never followed through.”

Then his possessions were stolen as a result of a bad roommate.

“That’s when I knew there had to be an easier, safer way to search for room rentals and roommates,” he said.

In 2013, he bootstrapped and started building Roomi, an app that lets users search for roommates and verified apartment listings. He sold his computer for $600 and brought on an engineer who agreed to work for free while they got off the ground.

Fast forward four years, and the 43-person team just celebrated their $11 million Series A funding round. The company that started working out of the New York Public Library is now headquartered in Union Square, with additional offices in Texas, Mexico, Croatia and India.

“NYC is one of the largest hubs for millennials and roommates, and we want to be as close to the problems in shared housing to ensure we’re creating solutions that truly help our users,” said Yadav. “We believe in building a diverse team, and NYC makes it easy to hire people from all different cultures and professional backgrounds.”

Roomi is a managed marketplace, meaning there’s a human element working alongside the software. Users create profiles, connect their social media accounts and have the option of taking advantage of additional safety verification features, like background checks. Every room listing on the platform is user-generated and then verified by the team. Yadav said it’s these extra steps that set Roomi apart from competitors.

“I’ve always believed anyone should be able to move anywhere in the world and feel at home,” said Yadav.

The app — which is hiring for a number of positions, including some in engineering — uses MongoDB and a node.js backend hosted on AWS, which allows it to scale and serve millions of users simultaneously. The website is being migrated from Angular to React for developer efficiency.

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