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Room for opportunity

While Andrew Rodriguez was scram­bling to find a tem­po­rary tenant for his off-​​campus apart­ment last summer, Brandon Bene­duce was con­stantly scan­ning online ads in search of a room to rent.

The two North­eastern stu­dents, who met through the university’s club hockey team, ended up find­ings solu­tions to their respec­tive prob­lems. But they were cer­tain that their peers were suf­fering sim­ilar apart­ment woes and were con­fi­dent that they could solve them.

Last month, the stu­dent entre­pre­neurs launched KeeWee, an online social plat­form with a quirky name but a serious goal: help stu­dents seeking sub­lets con­nect with renters with open rooms.

“The sum­mer­time is when people are scram­bling for housing, so this is why we launched now,” Bene­duce said.

North­eastern stu­dents with a valid uni­ver­sity email address can con­duct free searches based on neigh­bor­hood, price range and room­mate gender pref­er­ence, but the ser­vice will soon expand to col­lege stu­dents at other schools.

Unlike Craigslist, where most online sub­let­ting takes place, KeeWee was designed with social media in mind. The site, for example, makes it easy to share list­ings across a number of plat­forms such as Face­book, Twitter and Tumblr.

“We wanted to give our users a chance to self-​​market their list­ings so they don’t have to rely only on the traffic we bring,” Bene­duce said.

Bene­duce, a third-​​year behav­ioral neu­ro­science major, and Rodriguez, a fourth-​​year his­tory major, both of whom are pursing busi­ness minors, have learned a lot about entre­pre­neur­ship from building their com­pany from the ground up. But they have also received sup­port from jour­nalism major Hannah Becker, a busi­ness partner who helps brand and market KeeWee, and IDEA: Northeastern’s Ven­ture Accel­er­ator, which helps stu­dents and alumni create, develop and accel­erate new busi­nesses through coaching, men­toring and gap funding.

“It’s been really exciting to see this project grow from our ini­tial idea to get­ting actual users,” Bene­duce said. “While we didn’t actu­ally build our web­site, we han­dled every other part of this project.”

– by Matt Collette

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