When Scott Bierbryer moved to Philadelphia, he wanted an apartment with soundproof walls. That’s because the hobbyist musician was moving with guitars and a drum kit and wanted a space where he could practice comfortably.
But the Wharton MBA student didn’t have much luck finding an apartment guide that gave him useful information on soundproof walls. The Wharton School provides MBA students with an apartment guide, but Scott says he found sifting through its 85 pages of content to be inefficient.
That’s in part why Bierbryer and fellow MBA student Ashrit Kamireddi teamed up to create VeryApt. The duo want to solve a fundamental problem for grad student living: how do you find a place to live when you don’t have trusted contacts in the city who can give it to you straight?
During his apartment search, Bierbryer ended up in a building downtown where he met Kamireddi. The building was popular among grad students but Bierbryer didn’t know that at the time, or very much else about it: how high is the noise level? How much sunlight comes in? Are penthouses available? Those are questions VeryApt seeks to answer.
“If you don’t know people where you’re going, how do you get objective information on where to live?” That’s how Kamireddi describes what they are trying to do with the startup. (Here’s hoping they learn from the experience of the Inhabi team.)
VeryApt has an apartment guide in print, but their new website is their prime product. It lists 63 Philadelphia apartments currently for rent, most of which are high-end apartment buildings. Each apartment building pays VeryApt to get listed on the site and receive analytics and “brand management tools,” Kamireddi said. The startup has made $50,000 in revenue this year so far, he said. They plan to expand to rowhouses and other smaller apartments in the future.
The website uses an intelligent search component to narrow down a list of potential housing options based on your own criteria. Then, when you want to learn more about a place, user-generated reviews help paint a picture that straight apartment listings can’t.
“We like the guide as an opportunity to promote Philly, especially to international students,” said Bierbryer, who previously worked at hedge fund and is in charge of VeryApt’s content acquisition strategy.
The start-up also wants to expand: in the next year, they want to take on five more cities. But for now?
“We really want to get Philly right,” said Kamireddi, who previously worked in product development and marketing at TripAdvisor.
They also plan to stay in Philly after they finish their MBA.
“It’s our first market as a company so staying in Philadelphia makes it easier to continue to develop the business,” Kamireddi said, adding that VeryApt wants to continue to be involved with Wharton and Penn’s entrepreneurship efforts since the school was supportive of them. The VeryApt founders are part of Founders Club, Wharton’s entrepreneurship organization.
Kamireddi and Bierbryer pitched their business plan at the finals round of the Wharton Business Plan Competition yesterday and placed third.
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