Two young professionals from Brooklyn and their friend from Philadelphia have relocated to Cincinnati to develop a tool to make it easier for roommates to split their rent.
Chris Toppino, Trevor Geise and Ian Halpern comprise RentShare
– a Web-based (and soon to be mobile) application that allows roommates to pay rent and expenses seamlessly.
The co-founders came to Cincinnati in August to participate in the 12-week Brandery
startup accelerator program in Over-the-Rhine.
“We began building our platform while we were in New York, but we just weren’t making the right personal connections we needed to propel the business forward,” says Toppino, co-founder of RentShare.
“I had read about the Brandery being one of the top 10 accelerators in the country, and we really liked the focus on consumer marketing and branding that the program had to offer,” he says. “Other accelerators don’t have such a strong central focus.”
RentShare was accepted to the program, along with seven other startups, and the trio moved to Cincinnati to begin working with the Brandery’s more than 50 influential mentors.
“Cincinnati has been so welcoming to us. When we were looking for a place to live here, even the landlords who didn’t have a vacant apartment for us were supportive of our business idea and helped us make important connections to build our initial user base,” says Geise, the Philadelphia co-founder of RentShare.
“The city has a contagious passion,” Geise says. “The people who live here want you to be here. They’re so determined to make the city one of the most desirable places for a young professional that I know it will happen. Most places don’t invest this much time and money into cultural and social development.”
The guys have enjoyed their time in Cincinnati and plan to keep a base here to be used as RentShare’s hub to the Midwest.
While in Cincinnati, RentShare has been able to add a few hundred new users to the site, while honing its marketing plan and technology. The site is now in public beta, so anyone can sign up.
“We’re definitely in feedback-mode right now,” says Geise. “We want to know what works and what doesn’t, and we’re happy to have had a lot of great participation so far.”
With RentShare you can:
• Pay your rent online with a checking account or credit card;
• Set up automatic payments, e-mail reminders to yourself and your roommates and only worry about paying your share of the rent;
• Split expenses with roommates. You bought groceries this week? Enter the amount and RentShare will adjust rent totals accordingly.
• Create a hard-copy record of your rent, utilities and expense payments.
Those interested in becoming RentShare renters can sign up for the beta
By Sarah Blazak for CincyTech