Finding a decent apartment can be tough, which is why we’ve seen a recent increase in the number of startups that are aiming to serve a woefully underserved market. But finding an apartment when you’re a college student can be even tougher. Aimed squarely at the university market, a Y Combinator-backed startup called Cribspot hopes to alleviate at least some of the pain associated with finding rentals and sublets.
Compared to the broader housing market, college rentals are unique in that many units are booked a semester or more in advance. Furthermore, even when listings are available, they can typically only be found on campus bulletin boards or by walking around a college town and looking for “for rent” signs. All of that can make it difficult for students to find housing, especially on short notice.
Cribspot hopes to change that, by creating the most comprehensive search engine for apartments on or near university campuses. It’s doing that by collecting rental information from thousands of different sources and working directly with landlords who don’t have websites or other ways to find out about their apartments.
The search engine was designed to cut out a lot of the friction in both finding and renting places near universities. Cribspot currently has listings available on 56 different campuses across the U.S., enabling users to search for and find rentals based on the rent, number of beds, and distance to campus. When they find a rental they like, students can then call or message the landlord directly through Cribspot.
The company was founded by University of Michigan alums Jason Okrasinski, Evan Dancer and Tim Jones following their own frustrating rental process in Spring 2013. Without very many online resources, the three decided to create their own directory of rentals across their own campus and others.
Today, the startup is focused mainly on helping students just to find housing. But the founders believe there are a number of other features they could add which would reduce friction in the college rental market in general.
That includes creating a way for students to fill out a common rental application, and eventually giving renters and landlords the ability to transact on the platform. At that point, the startup hopes to handle lease agreements, electronic signatures, and even giving them the ability to pay their rent through the platform.