I couldn’t wait to move off-campus. It was exciting, but, with classes, homework and finals, it was also stressful. It’s hard to find the time to get everything done, not to mention find a new place to live. Two young entrepreneurs, Brett Stapper and Andrew Tarcon, have come up with a fast and easy way to help college students find their newest home sweet home. It’s called Home Jotter and it currently has listings in over 500 colleges across the country. In the upcoming weeks, they will be adding 65,000 new properties to the site. This will make Home Jotter the largest off-campus housing website in the United States.
YOUNG MONEY: Where did you get the funding for your business?
HOMEJOTTER: So far, we have funded the business with our own personal money. Just recently, we began seeking out investors and are currently discussing investment opportunities with several different individuals.
The 65,000 new properties are coming from the website ForRent.com who contacted us several weeks about forming a partnership.
YM: What gave you the idea to start this business?
HJ: My partner Andrew Tarcon came up with the idea after struggling to find off-campus housing himself. Andrew is the brains behind the operation. Without his creative ideas, the site would be nowhere.
YM: What was the hardest thing you encountered while starting your business?
HJ: It is very difficult to find time to do everything. Especially with our lack of employees, we really have to choose what portion of the business we want to focus our attention on. We try and switch it up by dedicating one month to contacting landlords and the next month to creating brand awareness.
YM: What surprised you the most?
HJ: I have been very surprised by the success we have achieved so early on. When we first started the site it was nearly impossible to gauge how things would go. We had originally planned to only offer properties for Wisconsin Colleges but within a few weeks, we had companies from all across the country contacting us about signing up for our services so we made the decision to take Home Jotter to the National level.
YM: Is this your first business?
HJ: When I was 16 I started an advertising business called Northvalley Advertising. The business achieved little success but I learned valuable lessons which I feel have helped grow Home Jotter into what it is today.
YM: How do you get your name out there and get customers? What has been your most effective marketing technique or tactic?
HJ: Our most effective marketing has come from the media. We have been featured in newspapers and on news stations throughout Wisconsin which has played a big part in our success. We also rely heavily on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist. Other than that, a majority of our time is spent cold calling and emailing landlords.
YM: How many employees do you have?
HJ: Currently, we do not have any employees. I handle the business aspects and my partner, Andrew Tarcon handles the creative end of things. We have gone through several different partners and employees but have not been able to find anyone dedicated enough to work as hard as we do.
YM: What effect has the recession had on your business?
HJ: Strangely enough, I feel the recession has had a positive impact on our business. Now more than ever, landlords are struggling to fill vacancies and Home Jotter is a perfect source for inexpensive, direct advertising.
YM: If you could offer one piece of concrete advice to other people, what would it be?
HJ: If you feel that you have a good idea, don’t hesitate, go for it. Money should never be an excuse to not go after your idea, there is always a way and if you work hard enough, things will work out.
For more information, or to find your new home, visit www.homejotter.com.