Residing in a college town with a fast-growing population and an even faster spike in rent means having a roommate situation is the reality for many Austinites — but we all dread having to shack up with unknown "randos" when the pool of potential roomies runs dry.
Fortunately, a new Austin-based startup aims to make the process of finding a roommate a lot easier (and ultimately less random). Introducing LeaseBuddies, a free online service that matches roommates based on compatibility.
"Think of it like an eHarmony for roommates," Co-founder Adam O'Neal tells CultureMap. Like the popular dating website, LeaseBuddies asks its users to fill out a "roommate profiler" that covers basics such as rent budget, cleaning habits, desired utilities package, quiet hours, and noise levels, as well as more in-depth elements like personality type and mutual interests.
The question-and-answer fields are designed to allow for more personalization, making the process both fun and thorough. "We want to help you find a longer-term roommate situation, uncovering critical compatibility factors and pairing you with people who have similar social activities, expectations for privacy, noise levels, etc.," says O'Neal.
O'Neal and fellow founder Jeremy Shreve launched the self-funded startup exclusively in Austin about six weeks ago. Although the market already has websites like Craiglist or Roomates.com, what sets LeaseBuddies apart is the focus on personalization.
"The majority of competitors are focusing on the room for rent," says O'Neal. "In other words, you post a few low-lit pictures of your creepy third bedroom on the Internet and see if you get any bites. I haven't seen any site that truly puts a face and personality to potential roommates like we do."
The service is only available in Austin, but LeaseBuddies plans to expand to other cities in the future. For now, the team will continue to develop the website and survey, as well as work on gaining investment to grow the brand here in town. "For us, the single greatest focus is having a dominating presence in Austin," says O'Neal.