In this age of information, where it's easy to find facts and statistics about nearly anything, Temple University graduate Ofo Ezeugwu found a gap: Renters struggle to find information about landlords and their properties.
"We are constantly looking for affirmation through information," Ezeugwu said. "On Amazon, you read reviews before you make a purchase. You look at Yelp before you go to a cafe or restaurant."
"You always want to make sure that you are going to spend your time the right way and not waste it," he said. " ... That's never been thought about in the housing space."
Ezeugwu, 25, said his classmates thought he had a point. Between security deposits, application fees, and first and last months' rent -- sometimes all due at once when moving -- "people are giving a landlord sometimes $4,000 or $5,000 upfront, and you don't have any info about them."
So in 2013, Ezeugwu and his co-founders launched Whose Your Landlord, a service designed to offer reviews about landlords and properties.
Four years later, Ezeugwu's startup is growing. In early October, Whose Your Landlord -- yes, it's spelled incorrectly intentionally -- launched a fundraising campaign on SeedInvest, a crowdfunding platform that connects startups and investors.
We caught up with Ezeugwu, the company's CEO, to learn more about the platform and its progress. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
A: I was vice president of Temple's student body in 2013, and one of the biggest issues for students was housing. There was a ton of gentrification happening and a lot of new private student housing. We saw that some landlords were not necessarily providing services the way they were supposed to: They were charging exorbitant fees, or there were bad property conditions. We thought, what if there was a way you could review landlords? The entire premise is about giving power to renters and informing the rental community.
Q: What demographic did you initially target?