Introducing our first #SymbiSpecial!

At Symbi, we’ve been working hard to build an experience that makes it easy, fun, and efficient to find great potential roommates and start the conversation. That said, when it comes to assessing roommate fit, nothing beats meeting up in person for the final say. You wouldn’t agree to be in a year-long contractually-obligated relationship with someone you only ever talked to Match.com, would you? (We would like to see someone try though. Marketing campaign??)

A great roommate relationship is based on communication and shared interests. So we are excited to announce our first-ever #SymbiSpecial! For a limited time only, every time you meet up with one of your Symbi Matches in person, coffee’s on us! Simply take a selfie with the two of you and post it to our Facebook wall or Twitter, and send us the receipt at SymbiNY@gmail.com.

coffeeTurq  coffeeNavy   coffee

Meeting up at the apartment in question? No problem – grab your potential roomie’s coffee to go! (Trust us, this makes for major brownie points. And brownies are delicious.) We’ve now added “coffee preference” as a question in your Symbi profile, to make sure you get it right. Go ahead to symbi.nyc/users/me to update your own!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Symbi. We wish you and your future roomie many great times ahead!

Best,

Simone & Peter

Symbi Co-Founders

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Symbi has launched!

We are proud to announce the official launch of the Symbi service, at http://www.symbi.nyc. Symbi matches Room-Seekers with Room-Holders (people trying to fill an empty room in their apartment). We pair roommates together based on compatibility, leading to happier homes and happier people. The launch is a big first step toward that vision!

There are three main problems we are trying to solve with Symbi.

1) Informed decision-making

InfoScreenshot

One of the biggest pain points we hear from roommate hunters today is incomplete information. Apartment posts on Craigslist are sorely lacking – even if a room’s description is adequately filled out, sufficient information on the roommates themselves is hard to come by. Roommate hunters are forced make decisions with little to go off of. Is it any wonder this leads to poor matches and tense living situations down the line?

One reason behind this lack of information is privacy -Craigslist can be a big, scary place. Another is simply not knowing the right questions to ask, and the New York City housing market is full of unique quirks.

Symbi solves these problems in a few ways. Through thorough research we have identified the most important factors that lead to good roommate matches. We ask users to populate a profile answering these questions. This ensures users are making informed decisions about their future homes. We also verify all our users so that people can feel more comfortable sharing pertinent information about their lives.

2) Efficient Communication

One of the reasons people find roommate hunting so darn painful is because of the sheer inefficiency of the current process. Room-holders have to sift through hundreds of responses (yes, you read that right, hundreds!), while Room-seekers can do little but cross their fingers that their carefully crafted emails don’t get lost in a sea of noise.

RoomRatingScreenshotUserRatingScreenshot

Symbi can do much better. We allow users to quickly go through compatible users and rooms and rate how much they would like to live with them. Mutual interest between potential roommates unlocks messaging. This process allows users to quickly and informedly prune down the list of candidates to only those with whom it could actually work out. (Plus we’ve been told it’s pretty fun.) They can then focus their time and efforts on these compatible matches, and take it from there.

3) The Whole Picture

A happy home is where three things line up: you, your roommate, and your apartment.

matchesRoomseekerScreenshotCraigslist centers around the apartment alone: “Yeah, I guess I’d live there.” Reaching out to those in your network focuses on the personality fit: “Sure, I’d live with her.” Symbi synthesizes the two, bringing together roommates who can feel at home together.

So check us out at http://www.symbi.nyc, and tell all your apartment-dwelling friends in NYC. Here’s to happier homes and happier people in 2015!

Best,

Simone & Peter

All About the Roommate Market

Hey folks, Simone here! We’ve been doing a lot of market research on roommates these last few months, and wanted to share with you some of the stats we find most interesting.

In this post I will go through some of the key decisions we’ve made and the data that helped us arrive at these conclusions – namely, focusing Symbi on:

  1. 1-1 roommate matching
  2. New York City

and understanding just how big our market opportunity size is.

Shared Housing in America

We wanted to size the opportunity in shared living all-up. Let’s start with some general shared housing trends in the US.

First, let’s talk about how many homes in the US are apartment complexes in the first place. According to the US Census Bureau, 7% of all homes in the US are condominiums, and 11.8% of homes in the US have 10 units or more in the structure. In fact, 3.8% of US homes have 50 or more units in the building – this number was much higher than we expected!

What we’re really after, though, is how many homes are on the rental market. We learned that 3% of US homes – that’s 9.4M households – are for rent at any given time, on average. Of all rental homes, only 17% are currently rented out, leaving 83% – or 7.9 M homes – currently up for rental at any given time.

Next we wanted to know how many roommates we should match together at a time. Here are the homes on a rental market broken down by number of bedrooms in the unit.

Number US rentals by bedroom

This data shows that 2-bedroom rentals are the most common, comprising 3.9M households currently on the market in the US. We listened to data like this to focus our efforts on 2-person households (you + a roommate).

Okay, so those are the households, but how about from the people perspective? For instance, some roommates are also homeowners, so households don’t tell the complete story. What about the stats on the number of potential roommates?

The People

A common roommate-finding scenario is someone who has just moved to a new place. According to the Pew Research Center, a whopping 11.9% of Americans have moved to a new community in the past year (known as the “annual migration rate”). Of these, 40% of these new residences were apartments – that is, 4.3% of Americans (13.6M) move into a new apartment in a brand new community each year. That’s a lot of turnover!

Why do people move? The biggest single factor is for better job opportunities (44%). Education and current geography of the people themselves are the largest differences between who moves and who stays put. College graduates and those who dwell in cities, suburbs, and small towns are more likely to move, and move farther away. What’s more, 26% of Americans have no extended-family members living within an hour’s drive of them. This drives the importance of friends and roommates as a surrogate “family,” with true relatives far away. Finding the right roommate is a high-stakes decision!

How many people are we talking about here? According to Census data, 6.5 M Americans (2% of the US population) live with non-family platonic roommates. From a household perspective, 6.8% of all homes in the US are made of non-family roommates, and this number is growing. Below we show household breakdowns over the last two decades. As you can see (green highlighting), this percentage is up from 5.2% in 1990. (Note that this household view below groups platonic and non-platonic roommates together.)

Census nonfamily households

New York City

With all this moving around and shared living in big cities, New York City in particular is a top spot for roommates. The city crams 8.4 M people – and growing at a rate of ~1%/year! – into 305 sq miles, within the confines of 3 M households. US Census data shows that the number of households with non-family roommates in NYC increased over 40% between 2000 and 2010, compared to 30% for the US population at large (see chart above). And the population moves frequently: 11% of all NYC residents have lived in their current home for less than a year. The highest roommate rate in the City is Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where 9% of households are made up of roommate arrangements.

In addition to the huge population, roommates are a necessity for New York City due to its expense. After holding the title of “most expensive city” for many years, NYC has recently ceded the title to San Francisco for small apartments, but on average, NYC still wins for priciest bedrooms. Check out the top 5 most expensive US cities below:

Median Rent - Top 5 Cities

With such high prices and a booming (and ever-growing) population, New York City stands out as the perfect storm for needing a compatible roommate you can stick with. That’s exactly what we’re trying to build with Symbi.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into the world of housing, populations, and costs, which have informed our decision-making in the early days of Symbi.

See you soon!

Keep checking back here for more updates. We have some great data to share with you on all the influences your roommate has on your life – psychological, mental, and financial. Please follow our blog to stay up to date with us.

Happy roommating!

-Simone