Looking for a roommate can be a soul-crushing experience, especially if you are new to a city or on a tight budget. Flatchat wants to make the process a little less tedious for renters in India. The mobile-based platform recently picked up $2.5 million in seed funding from CommonFloor, one of India’s leading real-estate listing sites.
Flatchat, which currently has about 40 employees, will use the funds to hire more people for its product and engineering teams, as well as expand into cities where there are high concentrations of students, young professionals, and other people who need roommates.
The platform is available on mobile only and claims to have racked up 50,000 users since launching six months ago. About 350,000 messages were exchanged through its Android and iOS apps in May.
Gaurav Munjal, who founded Flatchat along with Hemesh Singh, says the startup wants to save renters from combing through dozens of listings on multiple sites and paying broker fees. Users sign up for the app with their Facebook account, create a simple profile, and then filter potential roommates by area and price range. All communications are done through Flatchat’s built-in messaging feature.
“You don’t need to call anyone, you interact with them through messages. Nobody was targeting this market before,” says Munjal. “We have become the fastest way to find a place or roommate.”
Most of Flatchat’s users are currently university students or single men, but the company plans to start marketing to female users.
For CommonFloor, which is backed by Google Ventures, Flatchat represents a tactical investment because it covers a demographic that the site doesn’t serve, since it focuses on people who want to purchase property. CommonFloor claims to be India’s largest real-estate listings portal, though competitors include SoftBank-backed Housing.com and 99acres.com.
By working with Flatchat, CommonFloor has a stake in a new market and can also potentially retain renters as users once they are ready to buy their own homes. In turn, Flatchat gets access to CommonFloor’s data, which helps them pinpoint what cities to target next.
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