(Credit: Macrovector)

While Craigslist can be a valuable tool for finding an apartment or house, it's not so effective if you're going to be sharing that space with someone. Sure, you'll get photos of the residence, a specific location that you can look up on Google Maps, and a rundown of your amenities, but the potential roommate providing the listing doesn't have any legal obligation to reveal information about themselves to the public.

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While that's understandable for privacy reasons, it can complicate the process of finding the right person to live with -- as app developer Ajay Yadav discovered when he decided to move from India to New York City in 2006 to obtain a software engineering degree, CNN reports.

For the duration of his studies, he found himself moving from one place to another, in search of the right candidate. In one instance, he returned from a vacation in India to find his roommate gone and all of Yadav's personal belongings apparently gone along with them.

After years of frustrations with his living situation, Yadav decided to leverage his higher education to do what no one else appeared to be doing: Create an app that vets potential roommates, instead of just focusing on the usual listing information. It became so important that he ended up walking away from his pursuit of a university degree, to focus full-time on getting his app up and running.

Enter Roomi (Android, iOS), which he launched in 2015. In the three years since, it's become a successful business in its own right, with 60 employees helping to evaluate potential living partners in 20 cities around the world, and offices in India, Mexico, and Spain as well as New York.

But it wasn't a matter of just writing a check and renting out some office space. Yadav estimates that he met with 300 potential investors until one offered him $10,000 to get started. "In the beginning," he tells CNN, "I knew nothing about raising money." Now, sales are jumping 20 percent every month, but the company does not yet turn a profit because its revenue is routinely re-invested, like Amazon does.

That's also the percentage of people whose listings are rejected -- possibly because they're not accustomed to Roomi's higher standard. In addition to the usual requirements, Roomi listers must also include a photo of themselves and fill out a questionnaire that illuminates the kind of person they are and what kind of roommate would be a good fit for them.

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People looking for a place to rent must also fill out their own questionnaire, and criminal background checks are available to be performed on both parties. If the dwelling hunter and the dwelling provider feel like they would work well as roommates, they can also message each other within the app to get to know each other better.

It's also not the only roommate searching app in the game these days, so Yadav has been expanding his market share in part by acquiring some of the competition. He says to CNN, "No decision is more important than where we live and who we live with. We want to help make this decision safe for everyone."


  • An immigrant from India had difficulty finding the right roommates to live with in New York City, so he developed an app name Roomi that would vet people and not just the apartments or houses being listed.
  • Both the residence seeker and the lister must answer a questionnaire, and the lister must also provide a photo of themselves. Criminal background checks are also available, and prospective roommates can message each other within the app to get to know each other before signing any contracts.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.