TUTUroomii Launches Unique Roommate App with Support of StartR Accelerator
Rady School alumna Wei Fan (MFin ’15) and her team provide catered products/services to specifically serve the unmet needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Their first product is a free iOS APP, TUTUroomii, that helps LGBTQ+ young people and allies find ideal roommates, new friends, and housing resources and services within the LGBTQ+ community. Fan shared her experience as one of the teams in the recent StartR Accelerator group at the Rady School.Q: How did StartR help TUTUroomii’s grow?
A: The lectures held at StartR were helpful to guide us from challenges that are often misleading and expensive. Legal procedures, business model discussions, customer development sessions, and a lot of information that are crucial in the startup world were explained in detail. Guest speakers who provided their advice based on their personal experiences were also extremely inspiring. Incorporating TUTUROOMII as a C-Corp was achieved with great ease and success through the help of legal resources provided from StartR.
Q: What role has outside mentors played in the advancement of the company?
A: With the help of our two great mentors from StartR: Derrick Oien and Chuck Phillips, TUTUroomii has grown better as a team and I’ve grown as a leader. The strategies Derrick shared with us were very useful. He taught us how to monitor our users and achieve high user-traffic with alternative strategies. Chuck gave us a lot of very enlightening advice on how to do our organic marketing, especially when we don’t have much money at this early stage.
Q: How else has StartR impacted TUTUroomii, you or the rest of the team?
A: Joining StartR, there were many advantages. We got to learn from other inspiring teams in our regular meetings when they shared their highs and lows, we were inspired to hire interns from UC San Diego students to get help, and we also learned other methods to raise initial funds through crowd-funding campaigns like Kickstarter. The experience of being able to get together with various other teams to share experiences, resources, and ideas have motivated our team to do better. Although it will be a long path for our team, the culture of StartR has inspired us and made us stronger.
Q: What’s next for TUTUroomii?
A: TUTUroomii got its first $50,000 funding in March, and we’re raising $300,000 for our angel round this time and on the right track to meet this goal. After getting funded we want to boost our marketing to get more exposure and traffic on our platform and also start to develop our android version. Depending on the fundraising status, we may resume our WeChat platform where we have around 5000 followers, which may help us have a quick start to expand TUTUroomii in China later. We’ll also work on developing a better business model rather than the advertisement model in our plan right now with TUTUroomii. We’re looking to collaborate with another startup company to have our own TUTU housing resources, which allows our users to rent well-decorated LGBTQ+ -friendly housing. This new resource may come into play after we meet our goal of a certain user base.
Q: What is your top advice for other Rady students interested in entrepreneurship?
A: Take the New Venture Management Class! Attend the activities like Pitch Competitions held by Entrepreneur Challenge and StartR Demo Day. Get yourself out of the business circle, go to meet different students from different backgrounds, like art, computer science, medical, biological science, etc. You may find your future co-founders there! Doing a startup is not a journey for just one man, but a journey for a team. If it’s possible, having an experience of interning for a startup company will also help you get a deep concept of what entrepreneurship is like.