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Founder of SpareRoom Rupert Hunt pays it forward by offering 2 rooms in his NYC loft for just $1 per month

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The idea...

Back in September I moved to New York to spearhead SpareRoom’s expansion across the US. I’m a firm believer that living with the right people beats living on your own so I placed a listing on my own site to find two roommates to share my Manhattan loft for just $1 a month each.

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The initial idea was just to find people to live with. I don’t need the money so charging $1 a month it meant I could focus on finding the right people, not just who could afford the rent in an expensive part of town.

Paying it forward...

But then I started thinking…what would living virtually rent free mean for people? When I started SpareRoom back in 2004 in the UK I moved back to my parents’ house for six months. Not having to pay rent meant I could focus on SpareRoom 24/7 for the first six months and it made such a difference. Now, here I am 12 years later with a successful website used by over 6.5 million people. I realized this was an opportunity to pay it forward and help two people realize their dreams.

The response...

I was amazed by the response. I heard from almost 9,000 people aged 18 to 70+ and from all over the world. I had messages from artists, entrepreneurs, musician and writers, as well as people who wanted to volunteer, study or travel. Choosing just two of them was tough, but the videos people uploaded to their SpareRoom profiles really helped. They gave a real sense of who people were that you just can’t get from a photo, so I was able to get a feeling straightaway if they’d be a good roommate for me. When I met them face to face, that initial impression was almost always accurate.

The house party...

Out of those I met in person, including attending one of SpareRoom’s Speed Roommating events, I invited my six favorites to a house party to get to know them better and so they could meet each other as it's just as important that the two I choose get on well. The party was fun but didn't help the decision much - I came away liking them all even more and the feedback from them was unanimous, they all got on famously!

The realization...

What swung it was the realization that I could actually help two of the roommates beyond just the financial benefit. That’s why I ended up choosing Cyrus and Jacob. They’re both smart, driven and ambitious for their businesses, and I remember those heady days of just starting out. I believe that my experience of growing a company from the ground up can only be useful for them and they’re bound to have plenty to teach me too.

I started SpareRoom from a shed on my father’s farm in the north of England back in 2004, and now I’m here in New York heading up a multi million-dollar business. Hopefully the next six months in the apartment will prove just as productive for Jacob and Cyrus – they’ll definitely be a lot more comfortable!

Anyway, time to meet my new roommates.

The roommates...

Jacob Castaldi, 22, philanthropist and entrepreneur from Philadelphia

While still a student, Jacob raised over $600k for Save the Elephants by teaming up with his friends to sell t-shirts using social media. Having dropped out of college, he’s now moving to NY to pursue his dream to start a viral marketing agency.

See Jacob's SpareRoom video profile

Cyrus Schenck, 26, window cleaner, skier and entrepreneur from Vermont

Cyrus, a winter sports enthusiast, has developed a ground-breaking ski that adapts to changes in speed and terrain. He’s been supporting his growth towards profitability by cleaning windows and has always dreamed of moving to NY. The $1 a month rent will let him give up the window cleaning to focus on his business.

See Cyrus's SpareRoom video profile

How would not paying rent change your life?

We’ve got another exciting opportunity coming up in 2017. We’re announcing details early in the new year – to be first in line for all the info sign up for SpareRoom’s newsletters (max. 2 per month - you can unsubscribe at any point)



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