Students seeking roommates can now use new mobile app RentHoop

Finding a roommate is often a defining moment in one's college experience — some students choose to live with a friend, a classmate or a friend of a friend, while others choose to venture off the beaten path.

Paul Burke, a Seattle native and graduate of Western Washington University, is the CEO and co-founder of RentHoop, a new iPhone and Android app that helps users find roommates. 

Burke launched the app in May and works with his brother Ely, who does marketing for the RentHoop team. Ely is a business communication junior at ASU and a Devil's Advocate tour guide. 

Paul Burke said he saw a need for a more innovative approach to finding a roommate when he was in college. 

When students aren't able to move in with a classmate or friend, they often turn to sites such as Craigslist, which can be time-consuming and less than safe, he said.

match_screen
By RentHoop | Courtesy photo

RentHoop users swipe right to indicate they "like" other users. Once matched, they can start a conversation within the app's messaging interface. 

"Finding a roommate should be really easy, not something you need to spend hours going through Craigslist listings," he said. 

Burke's app has launched in the greater areas of Tempe, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, New York City, Orlando and College Station. Although the app only has about 4,000 users across the country, Paul Burke said that number shows a steady, healthy trend of growth.

RentHoop works much in the same way as the popular dating app Tinder. Users log in through Facebook and see other users' profiles stacked as cards. They then swipe right to indicate they "like" someone, and swipe left if they are uninterested.

If two people "like" each other, they are matched and can then message within the app. Logging in with Facebook also allows users to see if they have any mutual friends or interests with one another. 

As of yet, there is no "super like" button in the works, Burke said. 

Paul Burke said the app is safer than using other websites because there is no room for anonymity. Logging in through a Facebook account prevents users from fabricating an online persona, he said.

"There's a mutual opt-in process, which makes it safer," he said. 

Paul's brother, Ely, said his time at ASU has shown him how difficult finding a roommate at a large university can be. 

"I came in as a freshman and I didn't know anyone that was going to ASU," he said. "This app would have helped me not go into things blindly."

Ely Burke said the real challenge comes after students leave the dormitories and begin a search for a roommate on their own, especially in a large school.

"Those first two years are probably the hardest transition," he said.

High school graduate Hayley Browne said she is considering her options for college and wanted to use RentHoop to find a roommate once she begins her secondary education.

"I stumbled upon RentHoop and it seemed to be the most helpful for me," she said. "I've (matched) with about 20 different people."

Browne said she had a difficult time finding anyone near her on the app. She contacted Paul Burke, who then increased marketing in her area and helped her find a roommate. 

Paul Burke said he knows exactly what college students are looking for, and saw room for improvement in the tools they use to find roommates. He said he wants the app to help bring people with common needs together.

"It seemed like there was a better way to connect people," he said. "My goal is ... whenever anyone needs a roommate, they know about our app."


Reach the reporter at jwbowlin@asu.edu or follow @mrjoshuabowling on Twitter.

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