Photo courtesy of Ofo Ezeugwu.
Whose Your Landlord, from left: founder and CEO Ofo Ezeugwu, CTO Nik Korablin, Creative Director Phil Meyer, and COO Felix Addison.
When Ofo Ezeugwu founded his startup his junior year at Temple University, he couldn’t have predicted he would one day get an opportunity to pitch the founder of AOL for a chance at $100,000.
But that’s exactly where he will find himself this afternoon, when Steve Case will hear pitches from Ezeugwu and seven other Philly startup founders at the National Constitution Center. AOL founder Case is in Philadelphia as part of his national Rise of the Rest tour, a bus trip around the U.S. highlighting what could be considered the second tier of startup cities: those with vibrant, active startup communities that aren’t covered or known about nationally as well as San Francisco and New York City. The tour officially kicked off in Baltimore yesterday; In addition to Baltimore and Philly, Case is visiting Buffalo, Portland, and Manchester, N.H.
“We just knew we wanted to go for it and we felt very confident that we were one of the top startups in Philadelphia,” says Ezeugwu, who turned 23 in the spring and graduated from Temple in May 2013.
As Technical.ly Philly reported, more than 130 startups applied for an opportunity to pitch Case. Ezeugwu’s startup, Whose Your Landlord (the misspelling is deliberate), is the Yelp of apartment-rental sites, a place where users can review their property managers and landlords an idea Ezeugwu thought up when he realized his peers, while at Temple, had started moving off-campus and didn’t know which landlords in neighborhoods around the university were reliable and trustworthy. As the startup has grown Ezeugwu says 70,000 nationwide use the site more of its users, roughly 40 percent, are now in the 25-to-34 demographic; around 30 percent on Whose Your Landlord are college students. Philadelphia users represent 45 percent of the total number of Whose Your Landlord users.
The money on the line at the Rise of the Rest pitch competition tonight, $100,000 in convertible-note debt, would certainly help Ezeugwu’s startup. Thanks to its participation in two accelerators, including the Philly-based DreamIt Ventures accelerator this spring, Whose Your Landlord so far has raised $56,000 in venture capital from outside sources, and about another $30,000 from Ezeugwu’s friends, family, and personal savings. It’s currently based out of Drexel University’s ExCITe Center.
But the competition is stiff, and includes college scholarship-finding app Scholly, which received national attention earlier this year after appearing on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and taking home a $40,000 investment.
For those interested, the 4 p.m. pitch contest is free to attend, and RSVPs are still available.