Social networking apps are becoming more abundant across the digital board, and Renthoop - Roommate Finder, was designed to bring a new take on the search for roommates.
Renthoop - Roommate Finder, which is only available to IOS devices, was developed throughout the course of a year and launched in the midst of 2016 by the company’s CEO Paul Burke. He had come up with the idea for the app when searching for a roommate of his own.
“I had just moved home from college actually, and I didn’t want to live with any of my friends from home,” Burke said. “I wanted, sort of, a different experience because in college I lived with my friends the whole time.”
Burke said when the initial idea for the app came to his mind, he was searching for a housing situation which would open up his experience to different people, interests and cultures.
When Burke began his search for a roommate he utilized Craigslist, a classified advertisement website.
“I started looking for a roommate on Craigslist, and after I saw how creepy Craigslist was I was like, ‘let me check out other apps and websites,’” Burke said. “When I did I just saw nothing that really addressed what I was looking for as far as filters or the (overall) user experience.”
Advertisements on Craigslist, according to Burke, require users to go through “so many” ads at one given time which make it hard to focus on exactly what they may be looking for in a roommate. He said the flow of ads can lead people to seek out a “best headline that fits” what the individual is looking for.
Following his experience on Craigslist, Burke went on to develop an app of his own geared toward finding roommates in a filtered, “Tinder-like” way. Tinder was launched on IOS apps in 2012, according to the company’s website.
Burke said the two apps are different in most aspects, however, they both include a “swipe left, swipe right” feature on profiles. Users are able to swipe through detailed profiles, see photos of potential roommates and find out if they have a match. The app has additional features such as “dealbreakers” which include a list of three traits someone doesn’t want a potential roommate to have.
“If you see someone you might want to be roommates with and they have pets listed as a deal breaker you know upfront that that’s not a good situation for you if you have a dog or a cat,” Burke said. “I think we really help people filter through people without them having to get into long conversations only to find out, ‘hey this person doesn’t want to live with my dog.’”
Burke said his app is currently most used in states on the west coast such as California and Washington. He said the company is looking to expand across the country to the east coast and “entrench” in universities.
The app is geared toward college students looking for a roommate off-campus, but it does allow for people who are not attending a university to utilize it as well. Burke said he hopes the company will one day integrate the app into schools to include matching roommates who plan to live on-campus.
The company has 10 interns working across the country to market and advertise the app, Burke said. He added he would like to see Renthoop expand to East Carolina University and have it become an app students can rely on. Currently, Burke said there is only one account signed up from the Greenville area.
“Finding a roommate is hard,” Burke said. “If you, you know, go to ECU and (let’s) say you’re a transfer student or international student or all your friends already found roommates, then we want to be an app to serve people who have those needs and help them find someone who’s going to be awesome to live with.”
Raye Annahoff, a sophomore chemistry major at ECU, said she has never heard of the app. In the past, she said she has usually been paired with random roommates.
“I prefer randoms over friends because I feel like you have to have separation from your friends, and randoms you can get close to but, you know,” Annahoff said.
Annahoff said she would use the app to find a roommate if it had detailed questions to aid her search. She said the concept of the app seems to be effective in finding roommates tailored to what people are specifically looking for.
On the subject of comparing Renthoop to Tinder, Annahoff said she doesn’t see them to be very similar.
“I don’t think just swiping over is as effective as making a filter and saying, ‘I want this,’” Annahoff said. “I feel like Tinder is more of like, ‘oh he’s cute’ and ‘oh she’s cute’ (style).”
Timothy Parker is a senior computer science major, and also said he has never heard of Renthoop. Parker said throughout his college career, he had mostly random roommates but his ideal roommate would be someone he’s “already known.”
Parker said he would “try out” the app and download it if he was in search of a college roommate.