A new Internet company, www.livebycampus.com, founded by two Miami University alumni, is trying to simplify the process of helping college students across the country find places to live.
The Web site is designed to give students the opportunity to look for places to live from their computers.
Miami alumni Joe Condit, who graduated in 2004, and Jake Burns, who graduated in 2005, first developed a site called www.campus1housing.com in 2005. The Web site was initially set up in an auction style, similar to Ebay, however Condit and Burns felt the auction model was ineffective. The current model, Livebycampus.com was adopted in 2006, and in that year the two sites existed separately, before the companies merged in February 2007.
Condit is the chief operating officer and Burns is the chief financial officer for livebycampus.com.
The current site allows students to search for properties near their campuses based on certain criteria, including whether they want a house or an apartment. Seekers can also specify the minimum or maximum rent they are willing to pay. Other adjustable criteria include number of bedrooms or bathrooms potential renters are looking for in their living situation.
“Anyone who has ever gone through the process of looking for a place to live near a college campus knows how frustrating that process can be,” said Diana Hosler, regional director for Livebycampus.com. “We wanted to put all of the details in one place to save students the hassle of knocking on doors in search of housing.”
After site users input their preferences, the results screen returns a selection of applicable listings. The listings include information such as a map, generated by Google Maps, the distance a particular location is from campus and a price. Individual landlords post site listings and prices.
Students who use the site to find living arrangements are eligible to receive a rebate from the Web site that ranges from $100 to $500. Part of the goal of the monetary referral incentive is to increase exposure and usage for the site, Hosler said.
According to the referral policy on the Web site, in order to claim the reward, students print a referral form off the site, give it to a property manager and mail a copy to livebycampus.com.
The Miami connections that began with Campus1housing.com and Livebycampus.com’s creators continue to develop through Miami’s business fraternity, Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE).
PSE has an ongoing partnership with the Web site and the group assists with marketing and other promotional aspects ofdeveloping Livebycampus.com.
“Working on this project is a great way for students in our group to get hands on experience working with a growing company,” said Kristin Segerson, Miami senior and vice president of public relations for PSE.
Segerson added that PSE students are enthusiastic about working with the site as a client because many group members can identify with the difficulties involved with finding a place to live in the crowded Oxford area housing market.
Nearly half of Miami students live off campus, according to statistics on the Miami Housing, Dining and Guest Services Web site.
Currently, Livebycampus.com is active on 12 campuses in the country. Some of the schools listed include University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green State University and Indiana University. Currently most of the colleges and universities using the site are located primarily in Ohio and Kentucky as well as Arizona.
Hosler said the site wants to expand to a national market within a year.