ClikHome is the product of Nick Kljaic and Junjie Shi, two investment banking analysts who left their home in New York to create their own company focused on matching renters up with home options that fit their personal needs. Componica will build the machine learning engine that uses information about renters to match them up to an ideal home.
Online rental matching is a growing market. Where people once looked in the classified ads of the newspaper, rental searches are now conducted almost entirely online. For someone moving to a new city, finding a place to live can be a daunting task.
Many renters search through websites like Zillow or Craig’s List, but these websites offer no information on the neighborhood where an apartment is located or details that might help prospective renters decide if the apartment will suit their lifestyle.
Componica’s founder Steve Mitchell said that after recently buying a house through Zillow he realized the process made it clear there was room for improvement. One of Componica’s employees, Derek Hansen, had a similarly bad experience after searching for a place to live in Iowa City.
With the Componica team’s background in mathematics and engineering, it has applied machine learning technology to a variety of projects. In the past few years, it helped create the test grading application Lightning Grader for Learning Egg, LLC and worked with Higher Learning Technologies on its mobile test prep applications.
“If there’s one thing that we’re really good at, it’s making a product come into existence,” Mitchell said.
After working with startups for 10 years, Componica also knows what is needed for a company to get off the ground, which includes a clear vision for its product and the right team to make it work. Michell said Componica is excited to partner with ClikHome to create both that vision and team.
ClikHome participated in the recent 90-day Iowa StartUp Accelerator, and Componica received additional business training through the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’s UI Venture School. Having both graduated from these programs, Michell said Componica and ClikHome are ready to disrupt the rental property industry by combining
Componica’s powerful machine learning algorithms with ClikHome’s financial and real estate expertise.
ClikHome recently moved into the Technology Innovation Center across the hall from Componica’s own office at the University of Iowa Research Park in order to collaborate more closely. The UI Research Park provides space to growing technology companies along with access to the vast array of university resources and amenities.
The University of Iowa Research Park is part of the UI Office of Research and Economic Development, which supports and advances research, scholarship, and creative activity on the campus. Through a broad variety of activities and services, it seeks to play an important role in the underpinning of these creative activities in the public and private sectors of Iowa and beyond.
By Anne Easker