Images: Apt Amigo

We are all a little too familiar with the inevitable stress and frustration that come along with moving, given the overwhelming assortment of apartment finder apps, websites and even real estate agent referrals. Whether you’re relocating across the country or across the street, searching for a suitable place to live can be a daunting, dreadful experience.

But dread no more, for there is finally a place that adheres to all of your residential accommodations (including overlooked details like water pressure and temperature control) at lightening speed.

And it’s free.

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Apt Amigo is the latest tech startup in Chicago that saves apartment seekers the time, money and headaches attached to moving, and they aren’t stopping at anything short of getting you into your picture-perfect apartment through something other apartment finding companies don’t seem to offer: transparency.

Twenty-nine-year-old entrepreneur and Apt Amigo co-founder Dan Willenborg came up with the idea out of happenstance when his then friend and now co-founder, Matt Schoenfeld, had recurring trouble finding a decent place to live when he moved to Chicago. This was due to inefficient real estate agents and the overpowering capacity of rental availability.

Those problems immediately resonated with Willenborg, leading to the aha! moment. He realized that there needed to be a better way to help people get to the right place the first time, focusing on detailed reviews of management responsiveness, neighborhood safety, cell phone reception and shower pressure.

Taking a Risk

“It’s really about risk-taking,” Willenborg confirms on taking the leap to starting his own business.

I’m no different from anybody else. I just took kind of a crazy risk and a lot of people, they’re not in the right time in their lives or they don’t have the tolerance for it.”

Willenborg quit his lucrative and promising finance career in order to silence that “I’m going to regret not doing this” voice in the back of his mind after realizing this was in fact a really big problem.

He decided he was willing to dedicate the next few years of his life trying to solve the unending and exhausting process that apartment searching has become, and voila, Apt Amigo was born.

“I think there is a lot to the statement that there is a lot of luck and randomness in life, and I’m very much an entrepreneur by luck and randomness, rather than by design,” Willenborg says. “This opportunity just kind of presented itself.”

A Simple Mission

With the simple mission of making apartment searching as easy and user friendly as possible, Apt Amigo promises fairness and transparency in areas that competitors don’t always do. There are the obvious commonalities that people look for in a new space like certain square footage and in-unit laundry.

But what about the below-the-surface details that people don’t think of, like a friendly doorman, good WiFi connection and elevator wait time?

“We’re basically trying to help people just click a couple of buttons to exclude those places and options that aren’t relevant to them,” Willenborg says.

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Upon learning that most of the listings from competitors are either fake or brokers themselves, they aren’t even units that you can live in because they are old or have already been rented. The big software push the company is laser focused on now is getting the rental buildings and condo rentals to share their accurate availability in order to provide users with honest, up-to-date listings.

Willenborg explains this as “phase two” of the startup, with a simple availability date filter being the key feature in cutting the navigation process down.

Since the launch last August, 35 people have used the model and have all successfully found a place they loved.

“It’s really gratifying to feel like you’ve made a positive impact on people’s lives,” Willenborg says.

“We recently helped a guy move from Pakistan to Chicago, and he was so grateful, which is the point in doing this,” he explains. “It’s really gratifying for the people who have no idea what they’re doing, really needing help and being fair and transparent through the entire process,” he adds.

The company has also successfully moved people to Chicago from Russia and Argentina.

The goal of the startup is building a product to make Apt Amigo that one-stop shop for finding an amazing place in Chicago without the exhaustion of email and phone call overload.

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The drawn-up plan for Apt Amigo is to be solely Chicago-based for the next year in order to prove the business model. Willenborg explains that the company will eventually dive into bigger markets of Miami, Houston, Dallas, Nashville and Denver. But for now, Chicago is really the focus, as the tech company has a lot of work to get done before moving on to other cities.

“Going from working a steady job to owning your own company is more difficult than you can imagine, but it’s also more gratifying,” Willenborg admits.

Chicago: The Hunt is Over

So if you’re in need of a new place and would like the sweet satisfaction of landing that “too good to be true” apartment, check out where you are just a few clicks away from realty dream world.

As Apt Amigo confidently informs us, “Chicago, the hunt is over.”