Promising a new standard in apartment renting, the University of Maine founders of TrustedRentr are confident their online platform will build trust among landlords by helping tenants, for the first time, use their positive rental history to increase their credit score.
While it is becoming more common for landlords to report late payments or collections to credit bureaus, reporting on-time payments is not currently standard practice for most landlords. All three major credit reporting agencies will include rent payment history on credit reports if they receive it, but a landlord must report that data to the credit bureau for this to happen. Few do this, especially the small, independent apartment owners typical in Maine.
TrustedRentr aims to make credit reporting in the rental market automatic when landlords and tenants conduct business on their platform. The platform facilitates rental application processing, a proprietary “RentScore” rating, and coming soon: online payments, messaging, and credit score boosting. If a tenant eventually decides to buy a house or car, their credit score, possibly boosted 30-100 points with positive rental history, might qualify them for a lower interest rate or better terms on a loan, saving them tens of thousands of dollars.
In fact, it was his research into financing a car that led founder John Peters to his idea of TrustedRentr. As a young college student, he was learning first-hand about credit, while at the same time seeing his dad struggle repeatedly with poor tenants in a few of his rental properties. His aha! moment was realizing these two issues could mutually benefit one another.
To launch TrustedRentr, John and co-founder Steve Doman, a grad student at the University of Maine’s School of Business and Global Policy, tapped into the additional entrepreneurial resources available to them on campus at the Foster Center for Student Innovation, an UpStart Maine coalition member. The two had previously participated in a cohort of the Innovate for Maine Fellowship Program, a paid internship program through the Foster Center that connects the Maine undergraduate and post-graduate students with companies and business leaders to help grow and create jobs in the state. As a student incubator company at the Foster Center, they received business coaching and access to a network of professional expertise.
Of the incubator programs John shared, “If you are looking to use these resources… give everything you have to your time with them. You will only get out of it what you put into it and it takes a lot of hard work and determination to start a business. The people running these programs want to help you succeed, but they aren’t going to do the work for you.”
John recognized UpStart Maine as “filled with people looking to help entrepreneurs succeed.” Just last month, after completing another UpStart Maine coalition program, the Top Gun Entrepreneurship Accelerator, TrustedRentr won the Top Gun Michael Sheehan Memorial Award for $5000.
Of the impact the Top Gun program had on the TrustedRentr team, John shared, “The way that we tell others about our business and vision for the business has changed. We have learned how to convey the idea of TrustedRentr better, even though it can be a complex business to describe. This will be a huge benefit in the future and will hopefully help us attract users and investors down the road.”
I look forward to making Maine a place where skilled technical engineers can call home.”
Harnessing the vital resources accessed through UMaine and the UpStart Maine coalition programs, TrustedRentr launched with 40 rental units in Maine this August. Focused on markets that have high turnover year-over-year, such as college towns, TrustedRentr is built to scale nationwide. Their current team, all Maine natives, have the skill sets to scale the business but they are looking ahead to future growth. John is confident they will be able to find skilled people in Maine to fill future roles but he admits, “I am particularly excited about attracting skill to Maine. I look forward to making Maine a place where skilled technical engineers can call home.”
TrustedRentr is exactly the type of business that UpStart Maine formed to support in the greater Bangor region. They are fiercely committed to their Maine roots and keeping the headquarters here even as they seek outside investment for large-scale growth. They represent an “innovation-driven” enterprise with a new-to-the-world service that has obvious national, and even global, appeal. UpStart Maine’s coalition of programs is poised to offer assistance and connections otherwise not yet available in our region, such as executive expertise on scaling a business, B2B marketing, and outside equity investment.
For more information on the Foster Center for Student Innovation, Top Gun, or any of the UpStart Maine programs, please explore our website, UpstartMaine.org.
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UpStart Maine is a coalition of programs and facilities striving to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Greater Bangor Region. Upstart Maine works to build a community that fuels entrepreneurship from within by filling the gaps in the entrepreneurial landscape, forging connections with the larger community, and connecting startups with the people, services, and resources they need. To involve your business in any of the UpStart programs or to align your established business with UpStart to support Maine’s entrepreneurial landscape, visit UpstartMaine.org for more information.
This article is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Maine Technology Institute, supporting UpStart Maine’s effort to increase awareness of its programs and facilities available to start-up entrepreneurs in the Bangor Region.