As sophomores at Santa Clara University, Mercer Island grad Chuck Hattemer and a few of his friends got their first taste of navigating the housing market. And like any other newcomers searching for a place to live, the experience didn’t go well.
“We’d just started the process of looking for off-campus housing. Being in the Bay Area, naturally rents are extra high and competition is fierce for rentals, which leads to a poor experience,” Hattemer recalled. “Every day, people were talking about where they’re going to live. It’s such a hot topic on people’s minds because [the housing market] is so intense.”
So in March 2014, Hattemer and his friends decided to create a website where students could find and apply for houses online.
One short year later, OneRent was born.
OneRent is a one-stop shop for property owners and renters surveying the housing market, aiming to improve the renting experience for both parties. When property owners sign their rental location up for OneRent, the company takes over managing the rental, finding tenants for free, showing the property and leasing it out.
“The vision was doing the one-click experience, where people walk into a property they love and just rent it with one click,” Hattemer told the Reporter. “The only way to do that was to be the manager and to fill the role of landlord.”
Hattemer is one of four co-founders and also serves as chief marketing officer. OneRent was also co-founded by CEO Greg Toschi, COO Rico Mok and CTO Arman Dezfuli-Arjomandi.
Hattemer, Toschi and Mok initially got together bouncing ideas off each other through the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. Hattemer was studying marketing, Toschi was learning finance and Mok was studying operations management.
“We all had this problem and we all had a common interest,” Hattemer said. “Generally when those two things mix, you can create something good out of it.”
The group began working on their project in Mok’s garage. After getting a first round of investments of over $450,000 in January 2015, they began working full-time on OneRent, and Hattemer and Toschi took a leave of absence from Santa Clara. He said it was a “crazy process” explaining to his parents he was leaving college, but his outside investments helped validate his choice to do so.
Hattemer said part of the reason his group got into the business is because they saw just how fragmented the property management industry could be. Through OneRent and its technology, his team hopes to bring a level of transparency back into the market.
“Our mission is to really create the first consistent rental experience for owners and renters,” he said. “No matter where the property is and where they live, we want to align renters and owners on the same page when historically, they’re diametrically opposed.”
OneRent oversees over 600 properties in the San Francisco and Seattle areas. Two months after expanding to the Pacific Northwest, OneRent has begun managing 50 properties in the greater Seattle area.
Hattemer said OneRent is looking to be in five cities by the end of the year, targeting the San Diego, Boston and Washington, D.C. markets.