The Missing Link Between College Renters and Landlords
When Army Training Sgt. Curtis Cofojohn returned from his tour in Afghanistan, he watched as his fellow soldiers struggled to find a place to live. They had been out of the country for many months and most of the housing where they wanted to live was taken. Even finding a simple advertisement was almost as rare as finding a vacancy. In addition to veterans, Cofojohn noticed that the problem affected college students looking for off-campus housing.
At the time, Cofojohn was studying political science in Kent State University’s College of Arts and Sciences. As a student, he too discovered the need to secure off-campus housing more than a year in advance.
The obstacle made way for an opportunity. Cofojohn was about to embark on a journey he had not planned: a website and ultimately an app that connects renters to landlords. With the help of his business partner, Cofojohn created AllCollegeRentals.com. The site is similar to Zillow, which connects potential homebuyers to real estate listings around the country except it is directed towards student housing.
“I found that landlords struggle to market their properties efficiently, and renters don’t know where to look to find housing,” he said. “AllCollegeRentals.com is the bridge that brings both parties together. We haven’t seen a site quite like ours, so we created and copyrighted our own.”
With the help of dropdown menus, the site gives renters the option to search rooms, studios, lofts, apartments and houses. They can choose how many baths and bedrooms they are seeking. They can pick the price of rent they can afford and the date range of when they need housing, up to the year 2020. Renters can also see 4K photos of the property.
The site will soon be offered in multiple languages to accommodate the growing international student body. Cofojohn says it will help students from the international community who are trying to arrange housing from their native countries before they come to Kent State.
For now, the site focuses on campus listings within a 40-mile radius of the Kent area. As the company grows, Cofojohn says so too will the listings and the number of states that the site serves. It is free to search and list properties, but that could change in the next year as the site grows to multiple campuses nationwide.
“We are working on creating an app for the site and business cards with microchips that can send property listing updates through phone texts, emails, and social media sites,” Cofojohn said. “The app will also allow renters to fill out an application and pay rent and utilities online.”
After starting AllCollegeRentals.com, Cofojohn reached out to LaunchNET Kent State, now located on the second floor of the library.
“Curtis found us because of our outreach specific to student veterans, which is one of my initiatives, as veterans have unique needs and abilities in creating future ventures,” said Tabitha Martin, LaunchNET venture advisor. “I am so glad to be able to connect Curtis with resources and be a sounding board for him as he grows his company. I think the website is filling a real need that will help the entire Kent community.”
Cofojohn graduated from Kent State in May 2017. In addition to being a real estate agent and entrepreneur, Curtis says he may eventually go into real estate law in the near future. Cofojohn says that he is so grateful for his education that he wants to give back in the form of grants and paid internships to Kent State students who help grow the business and market to other students.
“AllCollegeRentals.com will hopefully be the largest college rental search engine in the country in the next few years, which will allow us to employ more students and help them hone their skill sets for when they graduate,” said Cofojohn. “I’ve been working at it nonstop and look forward watching it grow. There’s a need out there to connect renters with landlords. We are doing that and much, much more.”