Flexing a finalized $200,000 funding round, Prairie Village-based coliving startup Homeroom is poised to dominate the Midwestern half of an emerging industry, said Johnny Wolff.
“I think in 2016 [coliving] was a little niche maybe, but it feels like the market is really emerging and establishing itself — it’s a really interesting space to be in right now,” said Wolff, CEO of Homeroom. “There are billions of dollars going into it globally and there are reports talking about how big of an industry it’s essentially becoming. And now Homeroom is it’s only Midwestern player… we’re really excited to provide that [to the area.]”
Homeroom is a home-sharing concept that seeks to match roommates to their ideal houses — featuring community amenities, professional upkeep, and smart technology. Users can rent homes, and homeowners can list properties through the platform.
Click here to learn more about the coliving industry and Homeroom’s journey since founding in 2018.
The funding round — completed in January — enabled Wolff to bring on Parker Hills as COO, he said, noting Hills previously worked at the engineering consulting firm Burns and McDonald, as well as the real estate SaaS platform Keyzio.
“We’re really excited to have him come on with his startup experience and the engineering consulting background. He’s brought a lot more firepower to our team and we’re really excited about what that means for us this year,” Wolff said.
Click here to learn more about Homeroom and its team.
With more than 100 rooms already filled or waitlisted, the team is expected to double its reach throughout 2020 to eventually expand into a second city in 2021, he said.
“We’re looking for Midwestern cities to partner with and just figuring out what the next one is,” he added. “There’s a lot of options in St. Louis and Des Moines and even Oklahoma City, so we’re doing some analytics on bedroom prices and algorithms to analyze prices on homes to try to figure out what the best fit is for Homeroom. We’re definitely digging into the data analytics side and that’s something that is very important to us.”
The focus on analytics spurred the launching of the platform to include a space for real estate investors to buy houses specifically for the startup to use, Wolff said.
“Our goal is to kind of build that up, which will allow us to have more customized spaces and real estate investors that can make those spaces exactly what we’re looking for,” he added.
The startup also launched the Homeroom Coliving app in early 2020 to boost the customer experience and provide pathways for better communication throughout the property management process, he said.
“There’s just a lot of [tech] that goes into making the experience work well, so integrating that into a single app was a lot simpler and a place where they could get help,” Wolff said. “Integrating technology is core to what we’re trying to do in all our houses — the smart home tech and smart television — kind of all the extra structures that are part of what Homeroom provides.”
Expansion since the startup doubled down on resolved customer outreach strategies has become smoother as the team gears up for 2020 plans, he added.
“[In 2018], we had a belief that the market existed, but we didn’t really know how to apply that market,” Wolff recalled. “There’s that stage for every startup when you know someone’s going to buy it, but maybe you don’t know how to get through to them in a way that is super conducive.”
“We figured out essentially how to get through to our customers, as well as [identifying] the right customers to target,” he said.