Ajay Yadav, CEO of Roomi, is on a mission to make shared housing safer, easier, and more convenient to find. With a continually rising trend of renting housing instead of owning homes, more young people are looking for shared housing solutions. Ajay tells us more about his vision about Roomi, which recently raised $11M in Series A funding.
More and more young people are moving all over the world and demanding flexible renting options.
What is your business, and what problem you are solving?
Roomi is a shared housing marketplace that connects tenants in a safe, easy manner. The current system for shared housing has limited features. You cannot rely on other websites and platforms to mitigate the complicated process of finding suitable roommates. Neither Craigslist nor Facebook verifies listings. At the same time, more and more young people are moving all over the world and demanding flexible renting options. My mission with Roomi is to allow these people to safely and easily find great people and places to live.
Safety checks help build trust among our users and allow them to easily decide where to live.
Please explain your edge over your competition?
Our users complete detailed profiles and connect their social media accounts to help determine compatibility. Additionally, every room is user-generated. We verify every listing to ensure it’s a real place and also offer a background check feature. These safety checks help build trust among our users and allow them to easily decide where to live, allowing them to move in quicker.
What inspired you to start your company?
I personally experienced how difficult and unsafe housing search can be. Upon moving to NYC, I moved in with a roommate and was robbed of my belongings and security deposit. While this is thankfully not the norm for shared housing, my findings since that experience shed light on how challenging it can be to find flexible housing with compatible roommates.
Besides wanting a safer option, I also knew there needed to be an easier way to find shared housing that didn’t require hours of searching and back-and-forth emails. That drive motivated me to begin building what Roomi is today.
Who is in your core team? How did your team come together?
My core team consists of a handful of people from all areas of the business. My COO Alex Larsen has been part of the Roomi’s journey from the very early stages. Also part of my core team is our Head of Engineering, Adam Berlinsky-Schine. He previously worked at Coffee Meets Bagel and Amazon and we are lucky to have him here. On a day-to-day basis I also work closely with our Chief Strategy Officer, David Segura, our Product Manager, Evan Weiss, and our Brand & Communications Manager, Carli Evilsizer.
A skill you wish you had?
Design. I love great design and would love to have the skills to be able to work in UI or be a graphic designer.
Do you follow any unusual routines?
I wake up at 5 am every day. Waking up early gives me a few hours to reset. I love this routine because I get to devote my mornings to quiet, meditative activities. I’ve found that a relaxing morning allows me to arrive to work with a calm, refreshed mindset.
As more people are traveling and working remotely, I believe they will want commitment-free, immediate, verified shared housing options.
What’s the thing you believe to be true that no one else agrees with?
Something I believe to be 100% true is that shared housing is the future. I believe more and more people will be looking for shared housing. I also firmly believe that living with roommates isn’t just a trend or a phase in life. As more people are traveling and working remotely, I believe they will want commitment-free, immediate, verified shared housing options.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Egypt. I’ve always been fascinated by the pyramids and their history – the design and architecture that went into building them are fascinating.
Who inspires you?
My father. Also an entrepreneur, my dad never gives up. While he is successful now, it took him eight years to build his company. It wasn’t always easy. As a kid, my family moved from a three bedroom apartment to a studio in order to save money. We even sold land we owned. Despite the challenges, my father never gave up.
To pursue a vision, you need to be the one that takes the first step.
Thanks to my father, I learned that success is the product of patience, persistence, and hard work. This early example of determination instilled a mindset in me that I carry to this day. I learned that no one is going to hand you anything. To pursue a vision, you need to be the one that takes the first step. Once you initiate, you will find people who are willing to help you along your journey.
Three words that describe your leadership style?
Execution, innovation, and freedom. It is important for my team members to feel like they have the freedom they need to be innovative. At the same time, we also have an execution-oriented culture and we hold each other to deliver on our respective and shared goals.
Do you have any mentors?
Kevin Quinn. He is a great listener and demonstrates the power of being calm and thinking carefully about situations before reacting. Kevin is a master at keeping his emotions out of complex situations and I’ve learned a great deal from him.
Favorite book? Why?
Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. It teaches you that everything in your life happens for a reason. Anything that can happen at any given moment, is the best thing that can happen to you. You need to embrace acceptance rather than resistance.
Why equity crowdfunding?
We just raised $11 million in Series A funding so a lot of people have been asking me “why would you host a crowdfunding campaign?”
It’s an understandable question with an easy answer: Roomi is a company built by young people for young people. I’ve always believed anyone should be able to be part of something they believe in and it excites me to invite our customers to invest and be part of our journey.