Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Krimy Jain, the co-founder & CTO of Cirtru – The Most Popular Rental Housing Marketplace in the USA.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
While working at Cisco, I saw an internal company mailer list group become the go-to solution for its members to find housing. It worked far better than Craigslist because it lacked trust. As opposed to the internal company mailer list, since all of its members were from non-criminal backgrounds, none of the members cheated the other. This gave me and my co-founder the idea of Cirtru – Circles of Trust, where users could find housing from a vetted and hence trusted pool of people.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For retail business owners, registering up a legal entity like a company or a LLC should be the first step, as it would be a requirement before they can launch their business. But for non retail business owners who are thinking of launching a website or an app or anything that doesn’t need a retail space, they should instead focus on launching their product which would later become their business. You build a website/app (or get it built) and then start promoting it immediately. Don’t wait for it to become pixel perfect. You can start getting feedback from your target users early on and then you can keep iterating on that feedback. When you are iterating based on user feedback, you are launching again and again and that is what will make your product, and ultimately your business, wanted by users. We did the exact same thing at Cirtru. We launched the website and kept iterating based on user feedback.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Taking regular customer feedback and improving the product has not only made it user friendly but the users themselves are talking about it to their friends and family. Word of mouth publicity is the best thing that can happen to any business. Make it happen! We have also created housing groups on facebook and have grown those from 0 members to hundreds of thousands of members. Other than that we have also invested significantly in quality content and SEO.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are doing very well. Without external funding we have managed to grow the company and graph is at the inflection point in the hockey stick curve. Cirtru has never invested in paid marketing. Word of mouth has propelled Cirtru to be the most trustworthy and popular rental housing marketplace in the USA. We are soon launching a mobile app and will soon provide all the property management features like different types of tenant checks and rent collection. CirTru would become a one stop shop for anyone and everyone wanting to rent out homes or rooms in the USA.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
If you are focused on solving your users real problems or make their life easier by providing a product like a website or an app, your work is half done. The rest depends on execution. Build a lean team capable enough to transform your idea into a real world product and take it forward for the initial set of users. At the same time don’t reinvent the wheel. Use open source platforms and tools to quickly build the product. And use existing platforms like Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram to get your first 100 users, your first 1000 users and then think about getting your next 100 thousand users. Remember that at every stage of startup growth, the strategy will be different.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Admin – Google Workplace, Slack
Tech – Google Cloud, AWS, GoDaddy, Sendgrid, Twilio
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Blog – Y Combinator Blog
Book – Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Your users are your number one priority. Try to come up with a genuine solution to your users problems. Take risks early on. Build a great team you can rely on.