Hunting for a new apartment? Quo gives that personal touch without broker’s fees

Quo
Robert Crum/Shutterstock
Apartment searching is a frightening prospect. Sure, there’s Craigslist and Facebook for scouting out pads, but social media is fraught with peril. You’re mostly at the mercy of landlords for information, and if the number of potential neighborhoods is vast and time is short, there’s only so much you can learn about each.

And then there are real estate brokers. While they sometimes possess knowledge not exactly public about properties, their motivations are only partially sincere, making any recommendations or advice difficult to take on faith.

Quo’s secret sauce, so to speak, is its deep database of info on every property.

That’s where Quo steps in. It’s a startup that wants to help you find a place to live.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based Quo, which recently entered beta, is the brainchild of co-founder Amit Patel. “I was looking for an apartment in Cleveland, and it was pretty challenging,” he told Digital Trends. “I didn’t know the nightlife or neighborhoods, and it was really tough to manage across all the services out there. It was a time-consuming process.”

With that experience fresh in mind, Amit started Quo with partner Naman Desai. “I knew [apartment hunting] was tough for a lot of folks and I wanted to do something about it,” said Amit.

Quo is best described as a consultation service for prospective apartment buyers. The company employs a team of “local experts” — people who’ve lived in apartments within a given market for a set period of time — that aim to take the hardest parts out of property searching. Concierges, Desai explained, coordinate with customers through “whatever medium they find most suitable” to find apartments that match their criteria.

“If someone’s interested in a building, the concierge will check availability, set up an appointment, and reach out to landlords,” he said. “A property manager and leasing agent can then talk about aspects of the building with the user.”

How is Quo superior to the thousands of apartment listing websites, exactly? Desai sums up its advantage in two words: experience and data.

“Our concierge team is made up of people very well-versed in how to relate to our customers’ lives and understand what they’re looking for,” said Desai. But they’re only part of Quo’s one-two punch. The secret sauce, so to speak, is the company’s deep database of information on every property. Using a proprietary workflow, Quo concierges tag not only how buildings are reviewed by renters, but also information gleaned anecdotally, like the cleanliness of swimming pools and the noise level of nearby areas, for example.

Customers pay a “market appropriate” 60-day subscription rate.

“We’re able to hone in on a data point to find a place that suits a hobby or way of living,” Desai elaborated. “One thing I always tell people is, the day you sign your lease is the most you know about an apartment. We have that level of knowledge and more every single day of the year.”

That kind of granularity is one thing Quo has going for it. The other is competitive pricing. Customers pay a “market appropriate” 60-day subscription rate. In Cleveland, the cost is 8 percent of the average area apartment rent ($758), which amounts to about $40. We don’t yet know what it will cost in other cities.

Amit and Desai are also exploring commission-based revenue streams, but say they won’t pursue them unless they can find a way to avoid the perceptions of bias that would likely follow. “We want to build relationships with apartments with our principles in mind,” Desai said. “We want to send customers to buildings that match their lifestyle.”

Perhaps in a conscious effort to avoid the much-publicized pitfalls that have plagued other concierge startups, Quo is sticking to the Cleveland market for now. “We’re making sure we don’t overextend our team or ourselves,” said Amit. But despite an initially methodical pace, Desai and Amit are confident Quo can scale quickly. They’ve already begun recruitment in several Texas markets — Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio — and plan to launch in May.

“We’re happy with the throughput rate,” said Amit. “Even without the benefit of a highly sophisticated backend, we’re scaling effectively and efficiently.”

Ultimately, Amit thinks Quo’s philisophy will be the key to its success: “Apartment searching is such a specialized thing. It’s something you’d only entrust to a person or business that’s dead set on finding a building for you,” he said. “Only we’re providing that level of service in that area.”

We may not live in a future where every task is delegable to a super specialist, but if Quo’s concept works, finding an apartment may get a whole lot easier.

Quo is live at RentQuo.com. Sign-ups are restricted for now, but you can sign up for email updates on future expansion.

Mobile

The Cat S48c is the phone designed for construction workers (or the clumsy)

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.
Cars

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…
Smart Home

Airbnb says sorry to guest for how it dealt with undisclosed security camera

An Airbnb guest recently found a surveillance camera in his rental apartment that hadn't been properly disclosed in the listing. The firm admits its initial response to the guest's complaint was poor, but has since made amends.
Mobile

Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Smart Home

With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

Universal Electronics is the latest company getting into the smart home market, announcing at CES 2019 that it intends to market the Nevo Butler, a new smart home hub with onboard A.I. and voice control technology.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Google’s radar-sensing tech could make any object smart

Computer scientists have shown how Google’s Soli sensor can be used to make dumb objects smart. Here's why radar-powered computing could finally make the dream of smart homes a reality.