Industry: Internet Technology
Founding Student Name(s): Richard O’Brien
Brief Description of Solution: Hoamsy’s technology simplifies your move to a new city by combining the search for apartments and roommates into one. The platform boasts unique guidance tools such as live chat and city specific blogs to educate users on different aspects of their move, and offers support and advice on adapting to life in a new city.
Funding Dollars: < $1000 – We are currently bootstrapping the business.
What led you to launch this venture?
The idea behind Hoamsy was borne out of the team’s own difficulties moving to Boston and starting graduate school at Babson. There are many platforms in the market today, and yet all of us ended up turning to brokers and paying thousands of dollars for help due to our lack of knowledge needed to navigate those options. We learned that the problem was even worse for international students. In numerous conversations with students in our MBA program, we realized this problem affected thousands of students and young professionals who move to Boston each year. We resolved to find a better way. Hoamsy was born to facilitate and guide people through their next move by simplifying their search.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Our biggest accomplishment is launching our apartment rental feature with built in matching algorithms this past June, which was the final component of our completed platform. It’s exciting to see our roommate and apartment features come together as one and to create synergies between finding a roommate and renting an apartment. This is remarkable because no other platform today helps you find a roommate and apartment at once. It changes the way you plan your move to a new city by making it easier.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? I came to Babson with the goal of starting my own business, but Babson’s entrepreneurial ecosystem led me to finding the problem I wanted to tackle. One of the very first MBA classes at Babson is Entrepreneurship and Opportunity, where each student designs a business model, prototypes it, and pitches it to professors as if they were investors. I pitched the idea of making moving easier – this was the starting point for Hoamsy.
Along with taking Babson’s unique entrepreneurship-focused major, I leveraged the vast resources of Babson’s Blank Center for Entrepreneurship to build my network with alumni, investors, and entrepreneurs, find mentors and advisors, and pitch Hoamsy at several startup competitions. Babson’s unique community of aspiring entrepreneurs also helped the Hoamsy team come together to create a solution that we all believed in. Finally, going through the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship’s Summer Venture Program played a pivotal role in shaping Hoamsy.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Not one person but a group of entrepreneurs has played a significant role in shaping my entrepreneurial journey, starting with my father. My father has built a successful career for himself as an independent consultant and his unique path to success fueled my passion for entrepreneurship. At Babson, my first entrepreneurship professor Sid Vedula led me down the path of entrepreneurship by mentoring me right from when I entered his class with just an idea to today. John Landry – Babson Entrepreneur-in-Residence and a 12-time CTO and board member of many companies – has been an amazing mentor when it comes to starting a technology startup. Cindy Klein Marmer, Associate Director of the Butler Launch Pad at the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, and Deb Thompson, CEO of TAB Boston, have also been great mentors through the Fast Track Cohort program. They provided a sounding board for ideas and resources for advice on a weekly basis.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? My first MBA class Entrepreneurship & Opportunity was all about how to go through the entrepreneurial process by understanding the customer and then designing a solution to their needs. Through this class, I learned the general framework for exploring opportunities and using a customer -driven approach as opposed to product driven or another mentality. This is also the class where the idea for Hoamsy was born. I came to Babson to understand better the process for starting a business, and in my first class, I had the opportunity to do so.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Many of my professors have made significant contributions to Hoamsy. My Entrepreneurship & Opportunity teacher, Professor Sid Vedula, has been essential to understanding the process of entrepreneurship, becoming comfortable with ambiguity, and avoiding common pitfalls. John Landry and Cindy Klein Marmer, who taught my Tech Ventures Intensity Track, helped me understand what was needed specifically for tech ventures to succeed, including the team, the skills, and more.
How did the pandemic impact your startup plans? The pandemic affected our team and business. First, our team was no longer able to access our office space provided by our school and had to go fully remote. We have a team of 5 (7 including 2 interns now) and so we had to find ways to remain both close and productive as a team. We ended up creating a schedule of weekly team meetings via virtual hangout for business. To fill the missing personal interaction, we created a weekly fun meeting every Friday, where we all come together for an hour and play a virtual game hosted by a different team member. We also did a team-building workshop with one of our mentors, Deb Thompson, to make sure that, even as we go remote, we are growing as a team.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Hoamsy’s long-term goal is to become a nationwide platform where young professionals and students, guided by Hoamsy, can move with ease anywhere in the country. We want to turn moving into a fun and easy experience that people look forward to, because they know the result is going to be great!
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