biz-ezeugwu041718

Ofo Ezeugwu is the co-founder of Whose Your Landlord, a platform that provides landlord reviews, community focused content and apartment listings. He is also a professional actor and model. — ABDUL SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

Ofo Ezeugwu is striving to empower the rental community.

He is the co-founder of Whose Your Landlord, a web application that rates landlords based on tenant opinions.

The idea to launch the platform was spurred when Ezeugwu served as the vice president of Temple University’s Student Body in 2012. At the time, students were facing issues with off-campus housing such as black mold, plumbing problems and properties not being cleaned properly. He and his business partner Felix Addison launched their business in 2013.

“The idea was what if you could review your landlord that way those coming behind you could know what to expect before signing a lease. For the students it made perfect sense,” Ezeugwu said.

While the platform was initially geared toward millennial college students, its user base has expanded. WYL has received reviews from more than 200 cities around the country, even though its focus is on Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. The platform has received more than 10,000 landlord reviews from those three cities.

The service allows renters to review their landlord, apartment building or property manager in seven key categories ranging from safety to property conditions. The platform also provides apartment listings, renter resources and curated content about redlining and gentrification.

“We realize that from an information standpoint that the way that you empower people is by giving them an in-depth look into the history of property of where they are but also giving them more insight about their neighborhood and their communities nowadays,” said Ezeugwu, who is a native of Patterson, N.J.

“We are really hitting the multicultural community directly. We’re really able to tell the stories that help to make stronger communities.”

Ezeugwu and his business partner started off by bootstrapping their venture and receiving contributors from family and friends. They have successfully participated in various competitions and accelerators over time. Whose Your Landlord earned first place at Temple’s “Be Your Own Boss Bowl,” netting a $20,500 cash prize in 2014. The business has earned first place at Revolt TV & NewMe’s Accelerator Miami Pitch Competition, TechCrunch’s Radio Pitch-Off, the Scion Motivate Tour Competition and Kapor Capital SXSW Competition.

Ezeugwu was recently honored by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as the Young Professional of the Year.

“I think it’s dope,” he says of the recognition from the business advocacy organization.

“For me to get a recognition by the African American Chamber of Commerce it’s like I see you. That’s what it means. I see you and we’re going to uplift you and acknowledge what you have been doing and it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Ezeugwu’s company is being recognized at a time when many are calling for more African Americans and minorities to join the tech sector.

“When I think about the tech space, between 2014 and 2016 there was like this huge diversity in tech thing,” he said.

“That was like a movement, but not really, in the sense that we were making companies shift in a way that they were hiring us and putting more funding behind of us. I think there was a lot of noise made about it but then it became how can we tactically do these things.”

“Now I am seeing more fruits of the labor and now hopefully there are more dollars are flowing through,” he continued.

“I think there is a shift in the mental. It’s no longer looking for the opportunity, but we are creating our own opportunities.”

Ezeugwu serves as a Big in the Big Brothers Big Sisters entrepreneurial program. He has spoken on tech entrepreneurship at The White House and universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Wharton, Temple and Villanova.

ajones@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5747

(1) comment

Goldy

This is wonderful. The need is so great, I see it everywhere in our neighborhood. My concern is how many people will be receptive to it. Many feel they have no other choice but to deal with slumlords.

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