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Anyone who’s looked for an apartment in the city knows the search for a home is full of roadblocks and headaches, but what about the other side of the housing coin? In Chicago alone there are countless rules and ordinances that make renting your place out a challenge most are not ready to face alone.

Currently operating in beta, Chicago-based startup Rentalutions is looking to cater to small-time renters with a service that covers all the bases, helping each step of the way. The web platform takes landlords through the tenant screening process all the way to monthly rent collection, keeping up with maintenance requests, and even annual financial reporting.

We sat down with Rentalutions co-founder Ryan Coon, who told us about his own apartment search that inspired him and fellow founder Laurence Jankelow to build their robust property management platform.

What’s the story behind Rentalutions?

In late 2011 I was looking for a new place to live and, like most people, reached out to a guy on Craigslist. I found this guy who had a one-bedroom condo listed and he was pretty straightforward and said, “Hey I’m moving out of town for business school. This is my first time renting so I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

Because of that it took almost three weeks from when I first reached out to him until we had a signed lease agreement. Throughout the process I just kept thinking, There’s got to be a better way.

Around the same time I was talking to my cofounder Laurence. He had gotten married recently and bought a condo in ‘08. When his wife Megan moved in she took over all the closet space, so we looked at renting out the condo and realized that the rules and ordinances were all very cumbersome. There had to be a better way to do it.

From the two sides we put it together and saw there’s a real need for this. We realized that there are about 12 million that are in a similar situation.

When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Like any kid, it started with the lemonade stand and selling baseball cards. Laurence and I went to University of Illinois as entrepreneurship majors before it was the cool thing to do.

We went into school knowing that we wanted to start something. After school we went the corporate route for a couple of years, but ultimately it became apparent that the corporate world is just not as rewarding as building something for yourself.

Who are some people that inspire you?

My parents are really inspiring. You look at other people who’ve been successful and realize that anyone who’s a self-made rags-to-riches story has to get there through a lot of hard work.

What advice would you give to other beginning entrepreneurs?

You’ve got to have conviction and believe in yourself and trust that if you work hard, if you stay focused, and if you treat people the right way, things are going to work out.

You’ve got to really keep that positive attitude and really focus on doing the right thing every day and believe that in the end things will work out and go your way.

What is your idea of happiness?

I think overall happiness -- it kind of sounds cliché -- is being able to make other people happy. It’s just that internal feeling of adding value and doing something that kind of creates value.

What’s in store for Rentalutions this year?

A couple of big things. We launched the beta in October so we’re really focused on gathering, listening to, and iterating on customer feedback. We’ve got a very good group of beta users who have been giving us a lot of good positive and negative feedback. It’s really just trying to make the product as good as possible.

On the other hand we’re trying to figure out how to get more people on the platform. One of our big focuses right now is developing and implementing a broad marketing strategy to get more landlords and more tenants using the platform.

Improving the product and getting more users are our two main focuses.

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