The RentConfident Roadmap for 2016: “Pay What You Can” and More!

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Happy new year! 2015 was probably the most risky and rewarding year of my life so far. As we enter a new calendar year RentConfident is still only 10 months old. We've been open for business for just 7 months. Even so, this time of year is when we focus on long term planning. I wanted to share with you some of the exciting things that we'll be doing to reach more renters and shake up the apartment hunting process over the next year.

A new product that puts you in control.

Those of you who subscribe to our mailing list will already know that this is coming. Starting in March 2016, we will be adding a quick, single-address report to our product line. In contrast to our current reports, which are intended for renters who are very close to the end of their apartment hunts, the new report will be designed for renters who are just starting their search.

More importantly, it will be offered with a "pay what you can" price tag.

Like all of our reports, the ones in this new format will not be automated or computer-generated. Every single one of them requires human research. Combining the information we obtain from the many resources we use - and making sense of it - must still be done by hand.

Of course we need to make enough income to keep the doors open. However, we understand that many of the renters we serve are scrambling to cover even the lowest rents in the city. We are hard at work designing a new helpful report that we can be proud of and create quickly, no matter if our customers pay us $0.06, $6 or $16 for it.

The pay-what-you-can model will be a short-term experiment. We will run it for six months starting in March of 2016. It's an exciting adventure, just as every day has been since the day I left my old job and started writing the code. We hope you will help us to spread the word.

Integrating with the rental community.

While Jon and I still have a huge mental warehouse of memories and anecdotes to share with you from our days in apartment management, we want to reach out to others in that community who can provide additional insight for renters into how the whole landlord-tenant relationship works. We want to bring additional voices to our blog, from maintenance staff and landlords to attorneys, agents and aldermen.

While the landlord-tenant market is enormous in Chicago, the landlord-tenant "disruption" industry is still very small. Over the past few months we have reached out to other companies in the area who are working to educate renters, improve landlord-tenant transparency, and to equip apartment hunters with 21st century knowledge and tools. Each of us has a different niche, and we think that creative approaches to the rental market should be encouraged.

The companies who help to adjust the balance of power between landlords and tenants are all tiny interlopers in a very entrenched and hostile environment. We need to support each other in the interest of additional innovation. We hope to see some cooperative efforts between RentConfident and other related small businesses over the coming months.

Renting 101

Every year a new batch of Chicago college students make their first attempts at living and renting apartments on their own. Many of those students make an absolute hash of it. We know first hand how tough it is for first time renters to get used to living off-campus.

As we get close to housing lottery time, we hope to offer drop-in classes at local universities to help college students make the best and safest off-campus housing choices. From agents and applications to cosigners and cockroaches, we'll cover the dos and don'ts of apartment life.

[Your idea here]

We get really excited about great and new ideas that can help renters. If you're following our blog, the odds are good that you share that excitement. If you've ever wanted to have a say in the creation of a new company and a new industry, now is your chance. Drop us a comment on our blog, Twitter or our Facebook page, or send us a message. If you're reading this, we want to hear from you!

RentConfident is a small business that provides research and apartment safety data for Chicago renters. Help us get the word out. Like, share and retweet!

Published by

Kay Cleaves