Summer resident Lia Wayman is revolutionizing the search for roommates and rentals.
The dream of home ownership is not what it once was, as today renting has become the new norm. For those in their twenties and thirties, this often means splitting the rent with a roommate. And while there may be plenty of people out there to choose from, finding the right roommate can be as hard as finding true love. That’s the problem Lia Wayman is out to fix with her new company The Room Ring.
“Nearly one third of American adults are living with roommates,” explains the twenty-seven-year-old Georgetown grad. “And the average American moves four times between ages of eighteen and thirty.” Wayman knows this firsthand. After three years working finance in New York City, she returned home to Boston where she found the hunt for an affordable apartment incredibly daunting. Moreover, she needed to find someone to fill her spot in her old New York City apartment, which she had leased with two other roommates. “I knew there had to be a better way to connect people looking for roommates, subletters and lease replacements, but there was no easy and reliable service in the market,” she says. “Hoping to create a safer, faster and more reliable online platform for finding a roommate, my partner and I decided to use the same systematic approach to match-making that popular online dating platforms use to optimize love connections.”
Across between Craigslist and Match.com, The Room Ring allows users to safely search for roommates and rentals that meet their criteria. “When I was struggling with the process of finding roommates in Boston, I was hesitant to go to Craigslist because of the uncertainty of living with someone I didn’t know at all,” Wayman explains. By creating profiles, users are able see if they have mutual friends on Facebook, or if their schedules and interests are compatible. “I didn’t know finding roommate I actually liked could be this simple,” says Nick Spaniel, a twenty-three-year-old who needed to find an apartment on the fly when he landed a job in Manhattan. “[The Room Ring] saved me the hassle of spending weeks reaching out to everyone I knew.”
Last October, Wayman launched a beta version of her platform in the country’s two most competitive rental markets: San Francisco and New York City. Even in its beta version, The Room Ring has gained the praise of a number of publications, including The New York Times and Inc. Magazine. “We want The Room Ring to be the safest, most secure and transparent marketplace for medium-term room rentals across the world,” she says. And her timing couldn’t be better. Given today’s astronomic rental market in top American cities (the average price for a one bedroom in New York City, for instance, is $3,200), most millennials are turning to roommates to offset the rent.
Anyone who has rented on Nantucket in the last twenty years is all too familiar with this housing shuffle. But by 2017, Wayman hopes that The Room Ring will alleviate some of the hassle in finding a place to live on the island. In the meantime, she and her partner are working on some top secret innovations to their platform that they will be unveiling later this year. “Our focus on transparency, authenticity, safety and awareness continues to drive our product development,” she says. One only needs to consider Airbnb, which is today valued at $30 billion, to see the potential in Wayman’s startup. The Room Ring formally launched this June.
For Lia Wayman, entrepreneurism runs in the family. Among several successful ventures, Lia’s father, Jim, founded Paychex, what is today a publicly traded company. “Since I was a little girl, I have been hearing about my dad’s business strategies at the dinner table,” Wayman says. If all goes to plan, she may very well be giving her dad’s business legacy a run for its money.