RooMigo is on a mission to match compatible housemates

27 Aug 2018

RooMigo founder Edmund Burke. Image: Louise Smith

Our Start-up of the Week is RooMigo, an online platform that helps people to find suitable housemates to live with.

“We provide an easy-to-use platform where you can find and connect with like-minded housemates based on shared interests and lifestyle choices,” said RooMigo founder and CEO Edmund Burke.

Burke said that the platform has attracted around 2,000 users (at the time of writing) and is steadily growing.

‘Our mission is to be the world’s premier platform for connecting housemates and, ultimately, we want to become the one-stop shop in the house-share and co-living space’

The market

Burke said RooMigo is addressing a problem that the market for accommodation sorely needs. “We are targeting people living in shared accommodation,” he explained.

“Our core target market is primarily professionals aged 20 to 35. They are people renting out a spare room or people looking for a new place with the right housemates.”

Burke said that as lifestyle trends are shifting and people are renting shared accommodation for longer, finding a suitable housemate has become a much more important factor.

“This means our product is badly needed by our market and it is a growing global market.

“Our first target market is Dublin and our plan is to expand on a city-by-city basis. We are focused on building a global company and have identified our key target cities abroad for expansion over the coming 18 months,” Burke said.

The founder

Burke graduated with a business and law degree from University College Dublin in 2007.

As an undergraduate, he secured a job for 2009 with a law firm in London, Herbert Smith Freehills.

With some free time on his hands, he worked for Treasury Holdings in Shanghai and Dublin. “This experience gave me a taste for business and life in Asia.

“By 2012, I had qualified as a solicitor. I had worked in London for a few years, including a six-month stint in Moscow, and I wanted to get back into the business world in a capacity where I wouldn’t be working as a legal adviser.

“This was proving very difficult, people only seemed to want to hire me as a lawyer, so I accepted a place on the Farmleigh Fellowship scholarship programme. This provided an opportunity to study for an MBS in Asian business in Singapore.”

By 2016, he decided to return to Ireland to launch his own business, RooMigo.

The technology

Burke said the platform is designed to be simple to use.

“Just log in, click a few buttons and tell us a little bit about yourself. If you have a room, tell us where your room is and upload a few photos.

“What’s incredibly cool about RooMigo is, people get to choose their most important lifestyle choices – this is a mix of hobbies, interests and the way they like to live in a house-share situation. This means we can provide the best matches as people connect based on meaningful data.

“People send connections requests to potentially compatible housemates, which will be accepted or declined based on their profiles and lifestyle choices. If accepted, they are able to chat over the platform’s live chat. Next steps are to arrange a viewing and book the room.”

Burke said that RooMigo is all about connecting people.

“Our mission is to be the world’s premier platform for connecting housemates and, ultimately, we want to become the one-stop shop in the house-share and co-living space. Members will be able to pay their rent, utilities and manage all aspects of the house-share from our platform.”

Burke said that a new innovation on the platform will be to offer a secure room-booking service.

“This will be one of our first big new features we plan to introduce and something I had planned from the earliest days of RooMigo.

“The idea here is that RooMigo tackles the massive problem of online fraud in the rental industry, and enables people to safely book mid- to long-term accommodation.

“RooMigo members will be able to securely book rooms prior to moving to a new city by paying some rent via the platform without the risk of being scammed as the money will not released until after the room-seeker has moved into the room.”

From beta to bricks

RooMigo went live for beta launch in Dublin in mid-June.

“Since our beta launch, the key focus has been on learning from our early users and improving the product and user experience.

“We are delighted to say the response and demand for the product has been fantastic. Nearly 2,000 members have registered on our platform since the soft launch.

“We have noticed some very interesting behaviours. Traditionally, people who post rooms on property listing websites wait to be approached by the room-seeker.

“However, on RooMigo, we are seeing that people who have spare rooms are proactively seeking out like-minded housemates with whom they’d like to share their home. This shows how RooMigo is changing the way people and property connect.

“This is happening at a higher rate than we expected, demonstrating that people want to live with friends. With the current housing crisis, it is easy to fill a spare room, but very difficult to find the right person for that room. Our members love our product as it is making it a lot easier and fun to find the right housemates.”

RooMigo has been backed by the NDRC tech accelerator.

“We’re currently raising a round to allow us to build our team, keep improving our product and focus on international expansion on a city-by-city basis.”

Build it and they will share

As a start-up, Burke said that every day brings a new challenge.

“That is the start-up life. Our biggest challenge was the technical side of the business. I am not a coder so I understood very little about developing a technical product.

“To solve this problem, we found incredible technical mentors to advise us on this side of the business.

“We found an excellent Dublin-based development team, which enabled us to deliver a robust and scalable product. I am really grateful for their continued support and help.”

Find fellow founders

Having lived overseas for several years, when he returned to Ireland from Singapore, Burke found a vibrant and growing start-up scene.

“There are some great supports for Irish start-ups. It is important that start-ups seek out mentors who have built businesses.

“The first thing you should do is start socialising with tech founders. If you surround yourself with positive self-starters, this makes it far more likely for you to start yourself.

“Secondly, you should see if you can test your idea by building a minimum viable product. Can you come up with a cheap and fast way to prove that your concept works?

“Perhaps you’ll pivot along the way so it’s important to remain open-minded and flexible enough to change or even scrap your first product if that is what is needed,” Burke said.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years