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“DoNotRent.com provides a user friendly platform for renters to search and review only the most important information about an apartment so they can make an informed decision about whether they should rent or if they should tour an apartment”

DoNotRent.com was founded in 2011 by a group of real estate professionals in Chicago who have rented over the years from good and bad landlords. After performing market research and analysis they discovered a need for a national social networking apartment review site where users have the ability to review not only apartments but student housing and rental homes. Users can share reviews and apartment listings on their favorite social sites, send messages to reviewers and engage in a conversation about an apartment, bookmark listings and reviews, check rental data, inquire about apartment availability, obtain moving quotes and search for roommates via our partners site. They came out of beta November 2012 and launched a new user friendly social networking review platform.

DoNotRent.com is the first apartment review website where users can not only search or write reviews and ratings of apartments they rented from their computer but they also can search and write reviews of apartments they toured using their smartphone.

DoNotRent

BusinessInterviews.com: How has your background in real estate help shape the vision and direction of DoNotRent.com?

Mike: Helping renters locate properties that fit their needs and being a renter myself had a direct impact on determining what functionality we needed to build into the site. Since I have a background in real estate I already had the answers to a lot of the questions I asked myself while researching the market and deciding what renters need in an apartment review site.

BusinessInterviews.com: What were some of the challenges you faced in being first to market with this unique concept?

Mike: The biggest challenge so far has been traffic and user acquisition. We are confident that we are building the best apartment review platform for renters however we would like to be growing at a much faster rate. Since we are a bootstrapped startup we don’t have a marketing budget like our competition. We continue to look for creative strategies for growth and we are on the hunt for additional team members and investors. Additional challenges include navigating through constant Google algorithm updates and changes.

BusinessInterviews.com: How has DoNotRent.com evolved since you first launched around this time last year?

Mike: We have formed partnerships with many colleges and added functionality for landlords to claim properties. For a low fee, landlords, property managers and REIT’s can claim their listings to advertise vacant units, track visitors going to their listings, receive leads, add a link to their website, upload photos, YouTube videos and respond to reviews. We have also formed partnerships with sites where renters can find a roommate, browse moving resources and obtain quotes, search for a self-storage unit and pay rent online to any landlord. Traffic continues to increase and new users are signing up every day in order to search reviews, write reviews and share them on their favorite social sites.

BusinessInterviews.com: How have you managed to grow the site into a trusted and informative source for renters nationwide in such a short period of time?

Mike: Renters are intrigued by the name when they see their apartment complex x pop up along with the name “Do Not Rent” in the search results, which helps draw them to the site. The site offers a unique platform where renters can share good or bad reviews and landlords can also reply to posts to let current or future renters know when a problem has been fixed. The interaction with social sites such as Twitter and Facebook has also helped spread the word about DoNotRent.com. We remain neutral between renters and landlords. We have put measures in place that help protect both renters and landlords.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in the rental industry that you’re excited about?

Mike: Renters are becoming more savvy and reliant on technology when searching for a rental property. We are well positioned for this trend, as the site allows renters to search and write anonymous good or bad reviews of apartments, student housing and rental homes nationwide. There is also a growing trend toward social media, which doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

Our site has an emphasis on social media as we allow users to share reviews and apartment listings with friends on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. DoNotRent.com also offers a bookmarking feature so users (renters and landlords) can track rental properties and receive e-mail notifications when new reviews are posted. We are starting to see more interaction between landlords and property managers responding to renters who had a good or bad review. It’s my opinion that landlords are realizing they need to respond to reviews for reputation management. Prospective renters who see an active landlord online responding to reviews or addressing issues at an apartment complex are more likely to rent from them.

BusinessInterviews.com: How do you plan to keep the momentum going?

Mike: We hope to launch a mobile site and iPhone/Android app in the future so that users can read reviews on the spot while touring properties. We are also working on enhancing the apartment listing pages by adding school data, demographics, crime, WalkScore and TransitScore. Another cool feature in the works is that we are building functionality that will incentivize users to write reviews, add photos and share reviews on social sites. Finally, we are always looking for partnerships that will strengthen our commitment to becoming the trusted source and go to site for renters to search and write apartment reviews.

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