Milwaukee-based Rent College Pads is increasingly becoming a resource for college students nationwide as they search for off-campus housing, roommates and first-time renting information.
The startup expanded its market reach by 50% in 2019, adding 35 colleges to its website and mobile app, for a total of 106 universities across the U.S.
In 2013, chief executive officer Dominic Anzalone founded Rent College Pads in an entrepreneurship class as a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. One of the company’s first partnerships was with Marquette University.
“The whole purpose of our product is that students are making a more educated decision on where they’re going to live, based on price point, quality of the property group and proximity to their classes,” Anzalone said.
Within the past few months, Rent College Pads has partnered with more universities, adding Milwaukee School of Engineering and UW-Milwaukee to its roster. For students, that means searching for housing on a university-branded website but using Rent College Pad’s platform and database.
“At UWM, almost every single student who finds an apartment goes through either the UWM platform or our platform,” Anzalone said. “We’ve gotten to the point with our marketing and our product where it’s become that sticky, which is very good for us.”
To access university-partnered websites, students have to log in using their student ID before they’re able to find housing, roommates or subleases.
“That’s important because they can trust that it’s not spam and they know it’s their peers that they’re going to potentially be reaching out to,” Anzalone said. “There’s a lot more trust there than, say, Craigslist, for example.”
Rent College Pads plans to enter new markets and expand its university partnership model by the summer. Anzalone hopes to top the company’s 2018 ranking on the Inc. 5000 list, which was 514, he said.
“We’re really growth focused so that means more users, more customers and more markets altogether,” Anzalone said. “Whether it’s with this partnership model or just the Rent College Pads core business.”
Rent College Pads
Leadership: Dominic Anzalone, chief executive officer; Mitch Ehly, chief operating officer; Jeremy Schmidt, chief marketing officer.
Headquarters: 1101 N. Market St., Milwaukee
What it Does: Resource for students to find off-campus housing
Next goal: Continue product development and enter new markets