2021 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Renmo, Duke University (Fuqua)

Renmo, Inc. 

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Industry: Fintech

Founding Student Name: Patrick Pierson-Prah

Brief Description of Solution: Renmo is enabling tenants in West Africa to find quality homes and pay rent monthly. Rather than being tied to the current system, where renters have to pay one to two years of rent costs up front, Remno guarantees a better solution. Renmo simplifies the renting process by offering monthly payment options to renters and peace of mind.

Funding Dollars: $350,000

What led you to launch this venture? Three emotions motivated me to launch Renmo: anger, frustration, and empathy. First, I was angry that my parents, both school teachers, had to make the uncomfortable decision of using their available funds to either pay for rent or pay for my tuition, even though they could have afforded monthly payments. Then, when I completed college and landed my first job, I was frustrated because I could not pay the lump sum demanded by landlords, even though my expected salary could have comfortably afforded monthly payments. Above all, I was moved by the anger and frustration expressed by friends, family, and other community members on social media about this situation. I thought I could help change things—Renmo, Inc. was born to tackle this challenge and make it possible to have access to quality homes and pay monthly rent.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with this venture? Thus far, partnering with corporations to offer our services to their employees has been our largest accomplishment. We have been extremely excited to see that these organizations have prioritized housing affordability for their employees, and that they see the value in partnering with Renmo to find a solution to housing access. It has been quite motivating for our team to know that these corporations care about more than just their bottom lines. It has also opened our eyes to the scope of our work and the impact of our reach.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? Although courses in the program helped sharpen my business acumen, my biggest gains from the program were from the community I found at the Fuqua School of Business. Clearly, without support from the community, there would have been no Renmo at this point. From incubating the idea to financing, the company has largely succeeded from Fuqua’s vast resources, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. It is a fully Fuqua-inspired venture. I found my early co-founders, advisors, and investors through the community. The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) provided us with our first financial support, while the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) helped us to develop the idea, meet seasoned investors and advisors. and receive funding through pitch competitions.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Iyinoluwa (E) Aboyeji, a Nigerian entrepreneur, has provided me with great inspiration—particularly in the companies he has co-founded on the African continent. From starting Andela (that has trained many tech talents in Africa) to Flutterwave (now a unicorn), Aboyeji has shown that it is possible to return to Africa and build lasting businesses.

Which MBA classes have been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? It was New Ventures-Development (NVD) taught by Professor Jamie N. Jones and Negotiations taught by Professor Gráinne M. Fitzsimons have been most valuable in launching Renmo. NVD gave me the opportunity to test the idea. Negotiations taught me how to focus on interests and not positions in my negotiations, a valuable skill in the management of Renmo.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Jamie N. Jones provided immediate, thoughtful, and enthusiastic support for the launching of Renmo. From the moment I told her about my idea, she showed great interest and support. She immediately connected me with people who provided me with support and resources to advance the venture.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? My long-term goal is to make monthly rent the norm in West African countries. My hope is Renmo will become the preferred credit assessment and rent payment platform in Africa.

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