Finding a bad roommate sucks. The sites out there to find the perfect roommate are far from perfect. Of course there’s also the newspaper and Craigslist, but you’re opening up yourself to a whole world of trouble. Often times when you find and interview a potential roommate from the classifieds or Craigslist, it’s much like a job interview. You get someone showing off their best, and when they move in the worst can kick in.
A Los Angeles startup called Roometrics is trying to create that perfect platform for finding a roommate. Call it the “match.com” for roommates.
And that’s exactly what they do. Roometrics allows users to create a roommate profile that encompasses many facets of living with someone. The answers users give to the profile questions are then securely saved and can be shared with potential roommates and compatibility scores.
We got a chance to interview the team behind Roometrics. Check out the interview below.
What is Roometrics?
Roometrics is a web app that lets users find roommates that match their lifestyle based on over 50 specialized criteria. Think of it as an eHarmony meets Craigslist meets Carfax, but for roommates. The company has spent over a year developing the algorithm that shows users how well they would get along with a potential roommate. The idea is to get rid of the guesswork that often comes along with roommate finding through the current services.
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
To put it simply, users fill out a series of questions that will be used to calculate a “roommate profile”. We ask questions regarding current lifestyle and personality. Users are given a link which they can share with potential roommates they find on services like Craigslist. On the site, users can see how well they match overall with a person as well lifestyle and personality. The answers users give for questions are NOT shared with anyone and are simply used to generate compatibility scores.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Founders are Ardy Rahman and William Tran. Both are 26 and from Los Angeles, CA.
Ardy has an MSc in Developmental Neuroscience from University College London and completed a graduate fellowship focusing on addiction psychiatry at Yale University. He’s taken his experiences with neuroscience, psychiatry, and programming to develop the core personality metrics used in Roometrics.
Will has his BA from Pomona College and has spent his career in education as a high school English teacher and admission counselor. He’s mentored students at different stages of their development and has seen how the social dynamics of high school and college can impact that development. He and Ardy work together on developing the technology that drives Roometrics as well as marketing the service to befit our target demographic.
Where are you based?
We are located in Los Angeles, CA
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Relatively small (compared to SV), but hugely passionate. We have some strong tech startups out here and with a growing enthusiasm, we are moving closer to the tech renaissance that has graced places like Palo Alto, Austin, and Cambridge. There is tremendous talent in SoCal, it just needs to be given the opportunity to express itself.
How did you come up with the idea for Roometrics?
Through a mixture of bad roommate experiences and even worse roommate searching experiences. There has never been a “go to” place for people that need roommates. The services are all disjointed and our market research shows that many still rely on word of mouth. We decided that needed to change.
What problem does Roometrics solve?
Currently, to find a roommate, one can use a handful of services with Craigslist being the most used resource. But what about the intangibles; the things a CL posting doesn’t tell you. Like what kind of person they are, if you have similar living styles, or if you have similar outlooks on life, etc. Our research shows that even if you don’t know it, these are all important factors to consider when living with someone and will directly affect how comfortable you are at home. Roometrics gives you that extra tool when trying to find a roommate. A bit like when you ask for the Carfax, roommates can ask for the “roometrics” from people they meet on craigslist to see if they are compatible before ever signing a long term lease.
What’s your secret sauce?
We’ve developed both a unique assessment and algorithm which is used to specifically assess roommate compatibility. It’s based of empirical research that others have conducted as well as our own novel research on roommate dyads/triads. We’ve collected and analyzed data on over 200 roommates to construct the foundation of our technology. Combined with our user interface, we’ve created an easy to use system for roommate matching.
Our market analysis shows the 2008 economic crisis has had a horrendous effect on the housing market. The age at which people buy their first house has shifted to the right, resulting in a larger amount of the population renting apartments for longer periods of time. Moreover, because the economy had tanked, more people are looking for roommates to split costs of living in order to save some money. The process to find roommates is lackluster and the process to find GOOD roommates is even more discouraging. That needed to be changed and that’s what we’re doing.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Ardy: I profoundly respect Bill Gates. If you want to talk about a man who had the brains and the tenacity to take an idea and change the world, he’s your guy. But what sets him apart from other insanely successful individuals is his compassion and down-to-earth personality. Both he and Warren Buffet’s insistence on social responsibility are commendable. In a time when we need to restore faith in the practice of business, they are setting amazing examples for their students and peers.
Will: I am a fan of education technology. Even though it’s not a longstanding crowd, individuals pushing the envelope with products like Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera are my biggest fans (hope I can join them). I may not wholly agree with the internet classroom but I think this innovation is integral to ed reform. I’ve taught classic novels written ages ago but I recognize that we can’t continue to teach students the same way we have in the last 100 years.
What’s next for Roometrics?
Launching our beta. We have a few key collaborations that we are developing and hope to introduce our technology to the public shortly. After that, growth!
Where can people find out more?