What began as a modest proposal has since developed into what one Fox School of Business alumnus hopes is a sustainable business.
Ofo Ezeugwu is President and Chief Executive Officer of WhoseYourLandlord.com, which allows users – in this case, college-age and 20-something property tenants – the chance to rate the people from whom they rent.
The website, which launched its first mobile application Aug. 28, has made tremendous strides since Ezeugwu, graduated from Fox with an MIS degree, in May 2013.
“You look at sites like Yelp and Angie’s List and Amazon, and what they’ve done is taken a product and added an interpersonal aspect to it to make something powerful,” said Ezeugwu, 22. “You not only look at your product, but you also look at peer ratings of the seller, and when that’s the case, the consumer can make a more-educated decision on what it is they’re purchasing.”
Ezeugwu said he hatched the idea for WhoseYourLandlord while sitting in a late-night planning meeting with fellow representatives of Temple Student Government (TSG), as they developed their platform. His role, as Vice President of External Affairs, covered off-campus goings-on.
“So I thought, ‘What if students could rate their landlords so that the students who follow them know what they’re getting into before they even sign the lease?’” Ezeugwu said.
That meeting was in February 2012, only seven months prior to WhoseYourLandlord.com going live. From there, Ezeugwu’s day-planner quickly filled up.
In January 2014, WhoseYourLandlord took first place at Fordham University’s 3-Day Startup competition. Three months later, Ezeugwu’s idea netted $20,500 by taking the top prize in the Graduate Student/Alumni/Faculty/Staff track of Temple University’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl.
In May, following his graduation, Ezeugwu and his team were among six chosen from a field of 120 by the National Minority Angel Network to pitch their idea to a room of investors in California’s Silicon Valley.
And recently, Rose Tech Venture’s real estate tech accelerator accepted WhoseYourLandlord, giving Ezeugwu $10,000 and making David S. Rose, the founder of prominent investment group New York Angels, one of his personal business contacts.
“It’s been a fun ride,” said Ezeugwu, who moved his site’s operations to New York City.
WhoseYourLandlord’s six-person team is Temple-heavy. Co-founder Nick Korablin, who developed its first website, is an alumnus. Kacper Rams, the Chief Financial Officer, is a graduate of Fox’s Finance program and a current Master’s student in MIS’ Information Technology Auditing and Cyber-Security program. And Phillip Meyer, WhoseYourLandlord’s Creative Director, is an undergraduate student in Fox’s Legal Studies department.
“Temple and the Fox School are well-represented around here,” Ezeugwu said.
For those who question WhoseYourLandlord’s grammatical integrity, Ezeugwu said he chose the possessive form of the word ‘who’ because “we want the tenant to know that the power in the decision-making process is being returned to them.”
For those who question the monetization capability of a site that requires no money for user registration, Ezeugwu is not fazed. He said advertising and potentially an internal publication to trumpet WhoseYourLandlord’s services will attract a wide audience.
“I look at what we’re doing as big-impact data, and this information isn’t out there,” he said. “You can find out if the structure has incurred water damage or fire damage, or you can see if the doors creak, but there’s nowhere to go to find out about the person servicing your property and returning your security deposit. There’s a natural need for us in the marketplace.”
Soon, Ezeugwu envisions WhoseYourLandlord incorporating a landlord-run component. The reason? Using Philadelphia as the site’s first test market last spring, he and his team found that the landlords who scored poorly “were more adamant about having a presence on the site, noting that while it may be rough for them in the beginning, that the site would help them address changes.”