In our latest real estate tech entrepreneur interview, we’re speaking with Paul Burke from ColivingCircle.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m the Founder and CEO of ColivingCircle, a marketplace for finding coliving. I’m a solo founder working on everything from development, design and content to partnerships and customer support.
What problem does your product/service solve?
As coliving grows in popularity among renters we’re seeing more companies enter the space. Because every coliving space is unique – geared towards different lifestyles and interests, there is a need to provide a marketplace that helps consumers find the right coliving space for them.
You previously built RentHoop to connect roommates (interview is here). What learnings from that led you to your new product, ColivingCircle?
We’re actually talking to buyers regarding selling RentHoop which will be the end of a long chapter of my life that occupied most of my mid-20s.
As a first-time founder, I didn’t have the context or experience to know how to best build a product, evaluate an industry, allocate resources or manage a team. It’s all trial by fire when you’re just starting.
Over a span of a couple of years, I began to develop a level of objectivity that helped me see the industry from a different light. While the need for a product like RentHoop was, and still is, massive, there’s a reason people still use Craigslist, primarily, for finding roommates. It’s a tough business to monetize until you achieve density, scale and products people will pay for. Those things typically require a good amount of capital, especially for a low-velocity product like finding a roommate, room or sublet.
My goals this time around are very different than they were for RentHoop. For ColivingCircle, I am not looking to build a ‘startup,’ one optimized for user growth and raising money from VC’s, but a business with limited overhead that seeks profitability and can be self-sustaining.
What are you most excited about right now?
Coliving is “the antithesis to social distancing” as Rolling Stones Magazine put it. In the short-term, many coliving spaces are taking a hit.
The positive is that many people who are sticking it out in coliving spaces are able to experience community in a wonderful way. From some of the interviews I’ve done on the ColivingCircle podcast, we’re hearing about how people don’t feel isolated or lonely because they have others around.
We’re going to see demand for coliving explode in the next year and enter the mainstream.
What’s next for you?
Continue to advocate for the industry and connect people with a coliving space near them. We already have about a dozen partnerships with coliving spaces in the United States so we’re excited to officially launch!
What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
I’m half-Egyptian and those roots are extremely important to me. My family and I took a trip to Egypt this past September and we got the opportunity to work closely with a boys and girls orphanage. In the last week we were able to purchase them a school bus with the help of some family and friends. We continue to support them so they can receive an education and the opportunity to live out their dreams.
Thanks to Paul for sharing an update to his story. If you’d like to connect, find him on LinkedIn here.
We’re constantly looking for great real estate tech entrepreneurs to feature. If that’s you, please read this post — then drop me a line (drew @ geekestatelabs dot com).